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Title: The New Hacker's Dictionary version 4.2.2

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   Node:Top, Next:[2]Introduction, Previous:[3](dir), Up:[4](dir)

#======= THIS IS THE JARGON FILE, VERSION 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000 =======#

   This is the Jargon File, a comprehensive compendium of hacker slang

   illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor.


   This document (the Jargon File) is in the public domain, to be freely

   used, shared, and modified. There are (by intention) no legal

   restraints on what you can do with it, but there are traditions about

   its proper use to which many hackers are quite strongly attached.

   Please extend the courtesy of proper citation when you quote the File,

   ideally with a version number, as it will change and grow over time.

   (Examples of appropriate citation form: "Jargon File 4.2.2" or "The

   on-line hacker Jargon File, version 4.2.2, 20 AUG 2000".)


   The Jargon File is a common heritage of the hacker culture. Over the

   years a number of individuals have volunteered considerable time to

   maintaining the File and been recognized by the net at large as

   editors of it. Editorial responsibilities include: to collate

   contributions and suggestions from others; to seek out corroborating

   information; to cross-reference related entries; to keep the file in a

   consistent format; and to announce and distribute updated versions

   periodically. Current volunteer editors include:


   Eric Raymond [5]


   Although there is no requirement that you do so, it is considered good

   form to check with an editor before quoting the File in a published

   work or commercial product. We may have additional information that

   would be helpful to you and can assist you in framing your quote to

   reflect not only the letter of the File but its spirit as well.


   All contributions and suggestions about this file sent to a volunteer

   editor are gratefully received and will be regarded, unless otherwise

   labelled, as freely given donations for possible use as part of this

   public-domain file.


   From time to time a snapshot of this file has been polished, edited,

   and formatted for commercial publication with the cooperation of the

   volunteer editors and the hacker community at large. If you wish to

   have a bound paper copy of this file, you may find it convenient to

   purchase one of these. They often contain additional material not

   found in on-line versions. The two `authorized' editions so far are

   described in the Revision History section; there may be more in the


     * [6]Introduction: The purpose and scope of this File

     * [7]A Few Terms: Of Slang, Jargon and Techspeak

     * [8]Revision History: How the File came to be

     * [9]Jargon Construction: How hackers invent jargon

     * [10]Hacker Writing Style: How they write

     * [11]Email Quotes: And the Inclusion Problem

     * [12]Hacker Speech Style: How hackers talk

     * [13]International Style: Some notes on usage outside the U.S.

     * [14]Lamer-speak: Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers

     * [15]Pronunciation Guide: How to read the pronunciation keys

     * [16]Other Lexicon Conventions: How to read lexicon entries

     * [17]Format for New Entries: How to submit new entries for the File

     * [18]The Jargon Lexicon: The lexicon itself

     * [19]Appendix A: Hacker Folklore

     * [20]Appendix B: A Portrait of J. Random Hacker

     * [21]Appendix C: Helping Hacker Culture Grow

     * [22]Bibliography: For your further enjoyment



   Node:Introduction, Next:[23]A Few Terms, Previous:[24]Top, Up:[25]Top




   This document is a collection of slang terms used by various

   subcultures of computer hackers. Though some technical material is

   included for background and flavor, it is not a technical dictionary;

   what we describe here is the language hackers use among themselves for

   fun, social communication, and technical debate.


   The `hacker culture' is actually a loosely networked collection of

   subcultures that is nevertheless conscious of some important shared

   experiences, shared roots, and shared values. It has its own myths,

   heroes, villains, folk epics, in-jokes, taboos, and dreams. Because

   hackers as a group are particularly creative people who define

   themselves partly by rejection of `normal' values and working habits,

   it has unusually rich and conscious traditions for an intentional

   culture less than 40 years old.


   As usual with slang, the special vocabulary of hackers helps hold

   their culture together -- it helps hackers recognize each other's

   places in the community and expresses shared values and experiences.

   Also as usual, not knowing the slang (or using it inappropriately)

   defines one as an outsider, a mundane, or (worst of all in hackish

   vocabulary) possibly even a [26]suit. All human cultures use slang in

   this threefold way -- as a tool of communication, and of inclusion,

   and of exclusion.


   Among hackers, though, slang has a subtler aspect, paralleled perhaps

   in the slang of jazz musicians and some kinds of fine artists but hard

   to detect in most technical or scientific cultures; parts of it are

   code for shared states of consciousness. There is a whole range of

   altered states and problem-solving mental stances basic to high-level

   hacking which don't fit into conventional linguistic reality any

   better than a Coltrane solo or one of Maurits Escher's `trompe l'oeil'

   compositions (Escher is a favorite of hackers), and hacker slang

   encodes these subtleties in many unobvious ways. As a simple example,

   take the distinction between a [27]kluge and an [28]elegant solution,

   and the differing connotations attached to each. The distinction is

   not only of engineering significance; it reaches right back into the

   nature of the generative processes in program design and asserts

   something important about two different kinds of relationship between

   the hacker and the hack. Hacker slang is unusually rich in

   implications of this kind, of overtones and undertones that illuminate

   the hackish psyche.


   But there is more. Hackers, as a rule, love wordplay and are very

   conscious and inventive in their use of language. These traits seem to

   be common in young children, but the conformity-enforcing machine we

   are pleased to call an educational system bludgeons them out of most

   of us before adolescence. Thus, linguistic invention in most

   subcultures of the modern West is a halting and largely unconscious

   process. Hackers, by contrast, regard slang formation and use as a

   game to be played for conscious pleasure. Their inventions thus

   display an almost unique combination of the neotenous enjoyment of

   language-play with the discrimination of educated and powerful

   intelligence. Further, the electronic media which knit them together

   are fluid, `hot' connections, well adapted to both the dissemination

   of new slang and the ruthless culling of weak and superannuated

   specimens. The results of this process give us perhaps a uniquely

   intense and accelerated view of linguistic evolution in action.


   Hacker slang also challenges some common linguistic and

   anthropological assumptions. For example, it has recently become

   fashionable to speak of `low-context' versus `high-context'

   communication, and to classify cultures by the preferred context level

   of their languages and art forms. It is usually claimed that

   low-context communication (characterized by precision, clarity, and

   completeness of self-contained utterances) is typical in cultures

   which value logic, objectivity, individualism, and competition; by

   contrast, high-context communication (elliptical, emotive,

   nuance-filled, multi-modal, heavily coded) is associated with cultures

   which value subjectivity, consensus, cooperation, and tradition. What

   then are we to make of hackerdom, which is themed around extremely

   low-context interaction with computers and exhibits primarily

   "low-context" values, but cultivates an almost absurdly high-context

   slang style?


   The intensity and consciousness of hackish invention make a

   compilation of hacker slang a particularly effective window into the

   surrounding culture -- and, in fact, this one is the latest version of

   an evolving compilation called the `Jargon File', maintained by

   hackers themselves for over 15 years. This one (like its ancestors) is

   primarily a lexicon, but also includes topic entries which collect

   background or sidelight information on hacker culture that would be

   awkward to try to subsume under individual slang definitions.


   Though the format is that of a reference volume, it is intended that

   the material be enjoyable to browse. Even a complete outsider should

   find at least a chuckle on nearly every page, and much that is

   amusingly thought-provoking. But it is also true that hackers use

   humorous wordplay to make strong, sometimes combative statements about

   what they feel. Some of these entries reflect the views of opposing

   sides in disputes that have been genuinely passionate; this is

   deliberate. We have not tried to moderate or pretty up these disputes;

   rather we have attempted to ensure that everyone's sacred cows get

   gored, impartially. Compromise is not particularly a hackish virtue,

   but the honest presentation of divergent viewpoints is.


   The reader with minimal computer background who finds some references

   incomprehensibly technical can safely ignore them. We have not felt it

   either necessary or desirable to eliminate all such; they, too,

   contribute flavor, and one of this document's major intended audiences

   -- fledgling hackers already partway inside the culture -- will

   benefit from them.


   A selection of longer items of hacker folklore and humor is included

   in [29]Appendix A. The `outside' reader's attention is particularly

   directed to the Portrait of J. Random Hacker in [30]Appendix B.

   Appendix C, the [31]Bibliography, lists some non-technical works which

   have either influenced or described the hacker culture.


   Because hackerdom is an intentional culture (one each individual must

   choose by action to join), one should not be surprised that the line

   between description and influence can become more than a little

   blurred. Earlier versions of the Jargon File have played a central

   role in spreading hacker language and the culture that goes with it to

   successively larger populations, and we hope and expect that this one

   will do likewise.



   Node:A Few Terms, Next:[32]Revision History,

   Previous:[33]Introduction, Up:[34]Top


Of Slang, Jargon, and Techspeak

   Linguists usually refer to informal language as `slang' and reserve

   the term `jargon' for the technical vocabularies of various

   occupations. However, the ancestor of this collection was called the

   `Jargon File', and hacker slang is traditionally `the jargon'. When

   talking about the jargon there is therefore no convenient way to

   distinguish it from what a linguist would call hackers' jargon -- the

   formal vocabulary they learn from textbooks, technical papers, and



   To make a confused situation worse, the line between hacker slang and

   the vocabulary of technical programming and computer science is fuzzy,

   and shifts over time. Further, this vocabulary is shared with a wider

   technical culture of programmers, many of whom are not hackers and do

   not speak or recognize hackish slang.


   Accordingly, this lexicon will try to be as precise as the facts of

   usage permit about the distinctions among three categories:

     * `slang': informal language from mainstream English or

       non-technical subcultures (bikers, rock fans, surfers, etc).

     * `jargon': without qualifier, denotes informal `slangy' language

       peculiar to or predominantly found among hackers -- the subject of

       this lexicon.

     * `techspeak': the formal technical vocabulary of programming,

       computer science, electronics, and other fields connected to



   This terminology will be consistently used throughout the remainder of

   this lexicon.


   The jargon/techspeak distinction is the delicate one. A lot of

   techspeak originated as jargon, and there is a steady continuing

   uptake of jargon into techspeak. On the other hand, a lot of jargon

   arises from overgeneralization of techspeak terms (there is more about

   this in the [35]Jargon Construction section below).


   In general, we have considered techspeak any term that communicates

   primarily by a denotation well established in textbooks, technical

   dictionaries, or standards documents.


   A few obviously techspeak terms (names of operating systems,

   languages, or documents) are listed when they are tied to hacker

   folklore that isn't covered in formal sources, or sometimes to convey

   critical historical background necessary to understand other entries

   to which they are cross-referenced. Some other techspeak senses of

   jargon words are listed in order to make the jargon senses clear;

   where the text does not specify that a straight technical sense is

   under discussion, these are marked with `[techspeak]' as an etymology.

   Some entries have a primary sense marked this way, with subsequent

   jargon meanings explained in terms of it.


   We have also tried to indicate (where known) the apparent origins of

   terms. The results are probably the least reliable information in the

   lexicon, for several reasons. For one thing, it is well known that

   many hackish usages have been independently reinvented multiple times,

   even among the more obscure and intricate neologisms. It often seems

   that the generative processes underlying hackish jargon formation have

   an internal logic so powerful as to create substantial parallelism

   across separate cultures and even in different languages! For another,

   the networks tend to propagate innovations so quickly that `first use'

   is often impossible to pin down. And, finally, compendia like this one

   alter what they observe by implicitly stamping cultural approval on

   terms and widening their use.


   Despite these problems, the organized collection of jargon-related

   oral history for the new compilations has enabled us to put to rest

   quite a number of folk etymologies, place credit where credit is due,

   and illuminate the early history of many important hackerisms such as

   [36]kluge, [37]cruft, and [38]foo. We believe specialist

   lexicographers will find many of the historical notes more than

   casually instructive.



   Node:Revision History, Next:[39]Jargon Construction, Previous:[40]A

   Few Terms, Up:[41]Top


Revision History

   The original Jargon File was a collection of hacker jargon from

   technical cultures including the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI lab

   (SAIL), and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities

   including Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN), Carnegie-Mellon University

   (CMU), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).


   The Jargon File (hereafter referred to as `jargon-1' or `the File')

   was begun by Raphael Finkel at Stanford in 1975. From this time until

   the plug was finally pulled on the SAIL computer in 1991, the File was

   named AIWORD.RF[UP,DOC] there. Some terms in it date back considerably

   earlier ([42]frob and some senses of [43]moby, for instance, go back

   to the Tech Model Railroad Club at MIT and are believed to date at

   least back to the early 1960s). The revisions of jargon-1 were all

   unnumbered and may be collectively considered `Version 1'.


   In 1976, Mark Crispin, having seen an announcement about the File on

   the SAIL computer, [44]FTPed a copy of the File to MIT. He noticed

   that it was hardly restricted to `AI words' and so stored the file on

   his directory as AI:MRC;SAIL JARGON.


   The file was quickly renamed JARGON > (the `>' caused versioning under

   ITS) as a flurry of enhancements were made by Mark Crispin and Guy L.

   Steele Jr. Unfortunately, amidst all this activity, nobody thought of

   correcting the term `jargon' to `slang' until the compendium had

   already become widely known as the Jargon File.


   Raphael Finkel dropped out of active participation shortly thereafter

   and Don Woods became the SAIL contact for the File (which was

   subsequently kept in duplicate at SAIL and MIT, with periodic



   The File expanded by fits and starts until about 1983; Richard

   Stallman was prominent among the contributors, adding many MIT and

   ITS-related coinages.


   In Spring 1981, a hacker named Charles Spurgeon got a large chunk of

   the File published in Stewart Brand's "CoEvolution Quarterly" (issue

   29, pages 26-35) with illustrations by Phil Wadler and Guy Steele

   (including a couple of the Crunchly cartoons). This appears to have

   been the File's first paper publication.


   A late version of jargon-1, expanded with commentary for the mass

   market, was edited by Guy Steele into a book published in 1983 as "The

   Hacker's Dictionary" (Harper & Row CN 1082, ISBN 0-06-091082-8). The

   other jargon-1 editors (Raphael Finkel, Don Woods, and Mark Crispin)

   contributed to this revision, as did Richard M. Stallman and Geoff

   Goodfellow. This book (now out of print) is hereafter referred to as

   `Steele-1983' and those six as the Steele-1983 coauthors.


   Shortly after the publication of Steele-1983, the File effectively

   stopped growing and changing. Originally, this was due to a desire to

   freeze the file temporarily to facilitate the production of

   Steele-1983, but external conditions caused the `temporary' freeze to

   become permanent.


   The AI Lab culture had been hit hard in the late 1970s by funding cuts

   and the resulting administrative decision to use vendor-supported

   hardware and software instead of homebrew whenever possible. At MIT,

   most AI work had turned to dedicated LISP Machines. At the same time,

   the commercialization of AI technology lured some of the AI Lab's best

   and brightest away to startups along the Route 128 strip in

   Massachusetts and out West in Silicon Valley. The startups built LISP

   machines for MIT; the central MIT-AI computer became a [45]TWENEX

   system rather than a host for the AI hackers' beloved [46]ITS.


   The Stanford AI Lab had effectively ceased to exist by 1980, although

   the SAIL computer continued as a Computer Science Department resource

   until 1991. Stanford became a major [47]TWENEX site, at one point

   operating more than a dozen TOPS-20 systems; but by the mid-1980s most

   of the interesting software work was being done on the emerging BSD

   Unix standard.


   In April 1983, the PDP-10-centered cultures that had nourished the

   File were dealt a death-blow by the cancellation of the Jupiter

   project at Digital Equipment Corporation. The File's compilers,

   already dispersed, moved on to other things. Steele-1983 was partly a

   monument to what its authors thought was a dying tradition; no one

   involved realized at the time just how wide its influence was to be.


   By the mid-1980s the File's content was dated, but the legend that had

   grown up around it never quite died out. The book, and softcopies

   obtained off the ARPANET, circulated even in cultures far removed from

   MIT and Stanford; the content exerted a strong and continuing

   influence on hacker language and humor. Even as the advent of the

   microcomputer and other trends fueled a tremendous expansion of

   hackerdom, the File (and related materials such as the [48]Some AI

   Koans in Appendix A) came to be seen as a sort of sacred epic, a

   hacker-culture Matter of Britain chronicling the heroic exploits of

   the Knights of the Lab. The pace of change in hackerdom at large

   accelerated tremendously -- but the Jargon File, having passed from

   living document to icon, remained essentially untouched for seven



   This revision contains nearly the entire text of a late version of

   jargon-1 (a few obsolete PDP-10-related entries were dropped after

   careful consultation with the editors of Steele-1983). It merges in

   about 80% of the Steele-1983 text, omitting some framing material and

   a very few entries introduced in Steele-1983 that are now also



   This new version casts a wider net than the old Jargon File; its aim

   is to cover not just AI or PDP-10 hacker culture but all the technical

   computing cultures wherein the true hacker-nature is manifested. More

   than half of the entries now derive from [49]Usenet and represent

   jargon now current in the C and Unix communities, but special efforts

   have been made to collect jargon from other cultures including IBM PC

   programmers, Amiga fans, Mac enthusiasts, and even the IBM mainframe



   Eric S. Raymond [50]<> maintains the new File

   with assistance from Guy L. Steele Jr. [51]<>; these are

   the persons primarily reflected in the File's editorial `we', though

   we take pleasure in acknowledging the special contribution of the

   other coauthors of Steele-1983. Please email all additions,

   corrections, and correspondence relating to the Jargon File to



   (Warning: other email addresses appear in this file but are not

   guaranteed to be correct later than the revision date on the first

   line. Don't email us if an attempt to reach your idol bounces -- we

   have no magic way of checking addresses or looking up people.)


   The 2.9.6 version became the main text of "The New Hacker's

   Dictionary", by Eric Raymond (ed.), MIT Press 1991, ISBN



   The 3.0.0 version was published in September 1993 as the second

   edition of "The New Hacker's Dictionary", again from MIT Press (ISBN



   If you want the book, you should be able to find it at any of the

   major bookstore chains. Failing that, you can order by mail from


   The MIT Press 55 Hayward Street Cambridge, MA 02142


   or order by phone at (800)-356-0343 or (617)-625-8481.


   The maintainers are committed to updating the on-line version of the

   Jargon File through and beyond paper publication, and will continue to

   make it available to archives and public-access sites as a trust of

   the hacker community.


   Here is a chronology of the high points in the recent on-line



   Version 2.1.1, Jun 12 1990: the Jargon File comes alive again after a

   seven-year hiatus. Reorganization and massive additions were by Eric

   S. Raymond, approved by Guy Steele. Many items of UNIX, C, USENET, and

   microcomputer-based jargon were added at that time.


   Version 2.9.6, Aug 16 1991: corresponds to reproduction copy for book.

   This version had 18952 lines, 148629 words, 975551 characters, and

   1702 entries.


   Version 2.9.7, Oct 28 1991: first markup for hypertext browser. This

   version had 19432 lines, 152132 words, 999595 characters, and 1750



   Version 2.9.8, Jan 01 1992: first public release since the book,

   including over fifty new entries and numerous corrections/additions to

   old ones. Packaged with version 1.1 of vh(1) hypertext reader. This

   version had 19509 lines, 153108 words, 1006023 characters, and 1760



   Version 2.9.9, Apr 01 1992: folded in XEROX PARC lexicon. This version

   had 20298 lines, 159651 words, 1048909 characters, and 1821 entries.


   Version 2.9.10, Jul 01 1992: lots of new historical material. This

   version had 21349 lines, 168330 words, 1106991 characters, and 1891



   Version 2.9.11, Jan 01 1993: lots of new historical material. This

   version had 21725 lines, 171169 words, 1125880 characters, and 1922



   Version 2.9.12, May 10 1993: a few new entries & changes, marginal

   MUD/IRC slang and some borderline techspeak removed, all in

   preparation for 2nd Edition of TNHD. This version had 22238 lines,

   175114 words, 1152467 characters, and 1946 entries.


   Version 3.0.0, Jul 27 1993: manuscript freeze for 2nd edition of TNHD.

   This version had 22548 lines, 177520 words, 1169372 characters, and

   1961 entries.


   Version 3.1.0, Oct 15 1994: interim release to test WWW conversion.

   This version had 23197 lines, 181001 words, 1193818 characters, and

   1990 entries.


   Version 3.2.0, Mar 15 1995: Spring 1995 update. This version had 23822

   lines, 185961 words, 1226358 characters, and 2031 entries.


   Version 3.3.0, Jan 20 1996: Winter 1996 update. This version had 24055

   lines, 187957 words, 1239604 characters, and 2045 entries.


   Version 3.3.1, Jan 25 1996: Copy-corrected improvement on 3.3.0

   shipped to MIT Press as a step towards TNHD III. This version had

   24147 lines, 188728 words, 1244554 characters, and 2050 entries.


   Version 3.3.2, Mar 20 1996: A number of new entries pursuant on 3.3.2.

   This version had 24442 lines, 190867 words, 1262468 characters, and

   2061 entries.


   Version 3.3.3, Mar 25 1996: Cleanup before TNHD III manuscript freeze.

   This version had 24584 lines, 191932 words, 1269996 characters, and

   2064 entries.


   Version 4.0.0, Jul 25 1996: The actual TNHD III version after

   copy-edit. This version had 24801 lines, 193697 words, 1281402

   characters, and 2067 entries.


   Version 4.1.0, 8 Apr 1999: The Jargon File rides again after three

   years. This version had 25777 lines, 206825 words, 1359992 characters,

   and 2217 entries.


   Version 4.1.1, 18 Apr 1999: Corrections for minor errors in 4.1.0, and

   some new entries. This version had 25921 lines, 208483 words, 1371279

   characters, and 2225 entries.


   Version 4.1.2, 28 Apr 1999: Moving texi2html out of the production

   path. This version had 26006 lines, 209479 words, 1377687 characters,

   and 2225 entries.


   Version 4.1.3, 14 Jun 1999: Minor updates and markup fixes. This

   version had 26108 lines, 210480 words, 1384546 characters, and 2234



   Version 4.1.4, 17 Jun 1999: Markup fixes for framed HTML. This version

   had 26117 lines, 210527 words, 1384902 characters, and 2234 entries.


   Version 4.2.0, 31 Jan 2000: Fix processing of URLs. This version had

   26598 lines, 214639 words, 1412243 characters, and 2267 entries.


   Version 4.2.1, 5 Mar 2000: Point release to test new production

   machinery. This version had 26647 lines, 215040 words, 1414942

   characters, and 2269 entries.


   Version 4.2.2, 12 Aug 2000: This version had 27171 lines, 219630

   words, 1444887 characters, and 2302 entries.


   Version numbering: Version numbers should be read as

   major.minor.revision. Major version 1 is reserved for the `old' (ITS)

   Jargon File, jargon-1. Major version 2 encompasses revisions by ESR

   (Eric S. Raymond) with assistance from GLS (Guy L. Steele, Jr.)

   leading up to and including the second paper edition. From now on,

   major version number N.00 will probably correspond to the Nth paper

   edition. Usually later versions will either completely supersede or

   incorporate earlier versions, so there is generally no point in

   keeping old versions around.


   Our thanks to the coauthors of Steele-1983 for oversight and

   assistance, and to the hundreds of Usenetters (too many to name here)

   who contributed entries and encouragement. More thanks go to several

   of the old-timers on the Usenet group alt.folklore.computers, who

   contributed much useful commentary and many corrections and valuable

   historical perspective: Joseph M. Newcomer [53]<>,

   Bernie Cosell [54]<>, Earl Boebert

   [55]<>, and Joe Morris



   We were fortunate enough to have the aid of some accomplished

   linguists. David Stampe [57]<> and Charles Hoequist

   [58]<> contributed valuable criticism; Joe Keane

   [59]<> helped us improve the pronunciation guides.


   A few bits of this text quote previous works. We are indebted to Brian

   A. LaMacchia [60]<> for obtaining permission for

   us to use material from the "TMRC Dictionary"; also, Don Libes

   [61]<> contributed some appropriate material from

   his excellent book "Life With UNIX". We thank Per Lindberg

   [62]<>, author of the remarkable Swedish-language 'zine

   "Hackerbladet", for bringing "FOO!" comics to our attention and

   smuggling one of the IBM hacker underground's own baby jargon files

   out to us. Thanks also to Maarten Litmaath for generously allowing the

   inclusion of the ASCII pronunciation guide he formerly maintained. And

   our gratitude to Marc Weiser of XEROX PARC

   [63]<> for securing us permission to quote

   from PARC's own jargon lexicon and shipping us a copy.


   It is a particular pleasure to acknowledge the major contributions of

   Mark Brader [64]<> and Steve Summit [65]<> to

   the File and Dictionary; they have read and reread many drafts,

   checked facts, caught typos, submitted an amazing number of thoughtful

   comments, and done yeoman service in catching typos and minor usage

   bobbles. Their rare combination of enthusiasm, persistence,

   wide-ranging technical knowledge, and precisionism in matters of

   language has been of invaluable help. Indeed, the sustained volume and

   quality of Mr. Brader's input over several years and several different

   editions has only allowed him to escape co-editor credit by the

   slimmest of margins.


   Finally, George V. Reilly [66]<> helped with TeX

   arcana and painstakingly proofread some 2.7 and 2.8 versions, and Eric

   Tiedemann [67]<> contributed sage advice throughout on

   rhetoric, amphigory, and philosophunculism.



   Node:Jargon Construction, Next:[68]Hacker Writing Style,

   Previous:[69]Revision History, Up:[70]Top


                               How Jargon Works


Jargon Construction

   There are some standard methods of jargonification that became

   established quite early (i.e., before 1970), spreading from such

   sources as the Tech Model Railroad Club, the PDP-1 SPACEWAR hackers,

   and John McCarthy's original crew of LISPers. These include verb

   doubling, soundalike slang, the `-P' convention, overgeneralization,

   spoken inarticulations, and anthropomorphization. Each is discussed

   below. We also cover the standard comparatives for design quality.


   Of these six, verb doubling, overgeneralization, anthropomorphization,

   and (especially) spoken inarticulations have become quite general; but

   soundalike slang is still largely confined to MIT and other large

   universities, and the `-P' convention is found only where LISPers


     * [71]Verb Doubling: Doubling a verb may change its semantics

     * [72]Soundalike Slang: Punning jargon

     * [73]The -P convention: A LISPy way to form questions

     * [74]Overgeneralization: Standard abuses of grammar

     * [75]Spoken Inarticulations: Sighing and <*sigh*>ing

     * [76]Anthropomorphization: Homunculi, daemons, and confused


     * [77]Comparatives: Standard comparatives for design quality



   Node:Verb Doubling, Next:[78]Soundalike Slang, Up:[79]Jargon



  Verb Doubling


   A standard construction in English is to double a verb and use it as

   an exclamation, such as "Bang, bang!" or "Quack, quack!". Most of

   these are names for noises. Hackers also double verbs as a concise,

   sometimes sarcastic comment on what the implied subject does. Also, a

   doubled verb is often used to terminate a conversation, in the process

   remarking on the current state of affairs or what the speaker intends

   to do next. Typical examples involve [80]win, [81]lose, [82]hack,

   [83]flame, [84]barf, [85]chomp:


     "The disk heads just crashed." "Lose, lose."

     "Mostly he talked about his latest crock. Flame, flame."

     "Boy, what a bagbiter! Chomp, chomp!"


   Some verb-doubled constructions have special meanings not immediately

   obvious from the verb. These have their own listings in the lexicon.


   The [86]Usenet culture has one tripling convention unrelated to this;

   the names of `joke' topic groups often have a tripled last element.

   The first and paradigmatic example was alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork

   (a "Muppet Show" reference); other infamous examples have included:









   Node:Soundalike Slang, Next:[87]The -P convention, Previous:[88]Verb

   Doubling, Up:[89]Jargon Construction


  Soundalike slang


   Hackers will often make rhymes or puns in order to convert an ordinary

   word or phrase into something more interesting. It is considered

   particularly [90]flavorful if the phrase is bent so as to include some

   other jargon word; thus the computer hobbyist magazine "Dr. Dobb's

   Journal" is almost always referred to among hackers as `Dr. Frob's

   Journal' or simply `Dr. Frob's'. Terms of this kind that have been in

   fairly wide use include names for newspapers:

    Boston Herald => Horrid (or Harried)

    Boston Globe => Boston Glob

    Houston (or San Francisco) Chronicle

           => the Crocknicle (or the Comical)

    New York Times => New York Slime

    Wall Street Journal => Wall Street Urinal

   However, terms like these are often made up on the spur of the moment.

   Standard examples include:

    Data General => Dirty Genitals

    IBM 360 => IBM Three-Sickly

    Government Property --- Do Not Duplicate (on keys)

            => Government Duplicity --- Do Not Propagate

    for historical reasons => for hysterical raisins

    Margaret Jacks Hall (the CS building at Stanford)

            => Marginal Hacks Hall

    Microsoft => Microsloth

    Internet Explorer => Internet Exploiter

   This is not really similar to the Cockney rhyming slang it has been

   compared to in the past, because Cockney substitutions are opaque

   whereas hacker punning jargon is intentionally transparent.



   Node:The -P convention, Next:[91]Overgeneralization,

   Previous:[92]Soundalike Slang, Up:[93]Jargon Construction


  The `-P' convention


   Turning a word into a question by appending the syllable `P'; from the

   LISP convention of appending the letter `P' to denote a predicate (a

   boolean-valued function). The question should expect a yes/no answer,

   though it needn't. (See [94]T and [95]NIL.)

    At dinnertime:

          Q: ``Foodp?''

          A: ``Yeah, I'm pretty hungry.'' or ``T!''

    At any time:

          Q: ``State-of-the-world-P?''

          A: (Straight) ``I'm about to go home.''

          A: (Humorous) ``Yes, the world has a state.''

    On the phone to Florida:

          Q: ``State-p Florida?''

          A: ``Been reading JARGON.TXT again, eh?''

   [One of the best of these is a [96]Gosperism. Once, when we were at a

   Chinese restaurant, Bill Gosper wanted to know whether someone would

   like to share with him a two-person-sized bowl of soup. His inquiry

   was: "Split-p soup?" -- GLS]



   Node:Overgeneralization, Next:[97]Spoken Inarticulations,

   Previous:[98]The -P convention, Up:[99]Jargon Construction




   A very conspicuous feature of jargon is the frequency with which

   techspeak items such as names of program tools, command language

   primitives, and even assembler opcodes are applied to contexts outside

   of computing wherever hackers find amusing analogies to them. Thus (to

   cite one of the best-known examples) Unix hackers often [100]grep for

   things rather than searching for them. Many of the lexicon entries are

   generalizations of exactly this kind.


   Hackers enjoy overgeneralization on the grammatical level as well.

   Many hackers love to take various words and add the wrong endings to

   them to make nouns and verbs, often by extending a standard rule to

   nonuniform cases (or vice versa). For example, because


     porous => porosity

     generous => generosity


   hackers happily generalize:


     mysterious => mysteriosity

     ferrous => ferrosity

     obvious => obviosity

     dubious => dubiosity


   Another class of common construction uses the suffix `-itude' to

   abstract a quality from just about any adjective or noun. This usage

   arises especially in cases where mainstream English would perform the

   same abstraction through `-iness' or `-ingness'. Thus:


     win => winnitude (a common exclamation)

     loss => lossitude

     cruft => cruftitude

     lame => lameitude


   Some hackers cheerfully reverse this transformation; they argue, for

   example, that the horizontal degree lines on a globe ought to be

   called `lats' -- after all, they're measuring latitude!


   Also, note that all nouns can be verbed. E.g.: "All nouns can be

   verbed", "I'll mouse it up", "Hang on while I clipboard it over", "I'm

   grepping the files". English as a whole is already heading in this

   direction (towards pure-positional grammar like Chinese); hackers are

   simply a bit ahead of the curve.


   The suffix "-full" can also be applied in generalized and fanciful

   ways, as in "As soon as you have more than one cachefull of data, the

   system starts thrashing," or "As soon as I have more than one headfull

   of ideas, I start writing it all down." A common use is "screenfull",

   meaning the amount of text that will fit on one screen, usually in

   text mode where you have no choice as to character size. Another

   common form is "bufferfull".


   However, hackers avoid the unimaginative verb-making techniques

   characteristic of marketroids, bean-counters, and the Pentagon; a

   hacker would never, for example, `productize', `prioritize', or

   `securitize' things. Hackers have a strong aversion to bureaucratic

   bafflegab and regard those who use it with contempt.


   Similarly, all verbs can be nouned. This is only a slight

   overgeneralization in modern English; in hackish, however, it is good

   form to mark them in some standard nonstandard way. Thus:


     win => winnitude, winnage

     disgust => disgustitude

     hack => hackification


   Further, note the prevalence of certain kinds of nonstandard plural

   forms. Some of these go back quite a ways; the TMRC Dictionary

   includes an entry which implies that the plural of `mouse' is

   [101]meeces, and notes that the defined plural of `caboose' is

   `cabeese'. This latter has apparently been standard (or at least a

   standard joke) among railfans (railroad enthusiasts) for many years.


   On a similarly Anglo-Saxon note, almost anything ending in `x' may

   form plurals in `-xen' (see [102]VAXen and [103]boxen in the main

   text). Even words ending in phonetic /k/ alone are sometimes treated

   this way; e.g., `soxen' for a bunch of socks. Other funny plurals are

   `frobbotzim' for the plural of `frobbozz' (see [104]frobnitz) and

   `Unices' and `Twenices' (rather than `Unixes' and `Twenexes'; see

   [105]Unix, [106]TWENEX in main text). But note that `Twenexen' was

   never used, and `Unixen' was not sighted in the wild until the year

   2000, thirty years after it might logically have come into use; it has

   been suggested that this is because `-ix' and `-ex' are Latin singular

   endings that attract a Latinate plural. Finally, it has been suggested

   to general approval that the plural of `mongoose' ought to be



   The pattern here, as with other hackish grammatical quirks, is

   generalization of an inflectional rule that in English is either an

   import or a fossil (such as the Hebrew plural ending `-im', or the

   Anglo-Saxon plural suffix `-en') to cases where it isn't normally

   considered to apply.


   This is not `poor grammar', as hackers are generally quite well aware

   of what they are doing when they distort the language. It is

   grammatical creativity, a form of playfulness. It is done not to

   impress but to amuse, and never at the expense of clarity.



   Node:Spoken Inarticulations, Next:[107]Anthropomorphization,

   Previous:[108]Overgeneralization, Up:[109]Jargon Construction


  Spoken inarticulations


   Words such as `mumble', `sigh', and `groan' are spoken in places where

   their referent might more naturally be used. It has been suggested

   that this usage derives from the impossibility of representing such

   noises on a comm link or in electronic mail, MUDs, and IRC channels

   (interestingly, the same sorts of constructions have been showing up

   with increasing frequency in comic strips). Another expression

   sometimes heard is "Complain!", meaning "I have a complaint!"



   Node:Anthropomorphization, Next:[110]Comparatives,

   Previous:[111]Spoken Inarticulations, Up:[112]Jargon Construction




   Semantically, one rich source of jargon constructions is the hackish

   tendency to anthropomorphize hardware and software. English purists

   and academic computer scientists frequently look down on others for

   anthropomorphizing hardware and software, considering this sort of

   behavior to be characteristic of naive misunderstanding. But most

   hackers anthropomorphize freely, frequently describing program

   behavior in terms of wants and desires.


   Thus it is common to hear hardware or software talked about as though

   it has homunculi talking to each other inside it, with intentions and

   desires. Thus, one hears "The protocol handler got confused", or that

   programs "are trying" to do things, or one may say of a routine that

   "its goal in life is to X". One even hears explanations like "... and

   its poor little brain couldn't understand X, and it died." Sometimes

   modelling things this way actually seems to make them easier to

   understand, perhaps because it's instinctively natural to think of

   anything with a really complex behavioral repertoire as `like a

   person' rather than `like a thing'.


   At first glance, to anyone who understands how these programs actually

   work, this seems like an absurdity. As hackers are among the people

   who know best how these phenomena work, it seems odd that they would

   use language that seemds to ascribe conciousness to them. The mind-set

   behind this tendency thus demands examination.


   The key to understanding this kind of usage is that it isn't done in a

   naive way; hackers don't personalize their stuff in the sense of

   feeling empathy with it, nor do they mystically believe that the

   things they work on every day are `alive'. To the contrary: hackers

   who anthropomorphize are expressing not a vitalistic view of program

   behavior but a mechanistic view of human behavior.


   Almost all hackers subscribe to the mechanistic, materialistic

   ontology of science (this is in practice true even of most of the

   minority with contrary religious theories). In this view, people are

   biological machines - consciousness is an interesting and valuable

   epiphenomenon, but mind is implemented in machinery which is not

   fundamentally different in information-processing capacity from



   Hackers tend to take this a step further and argue that the difference

   between a substrate of CHON atoms and water and a substrate of silicon

   and metal is a relatively unimportant one; what matters, what makes a

   thing `alive', is information and richness of pattern. This is animism

   from the flip side; it implies that humans and computers and dolphins

   and rocks are all machines exhibiting a continuum of modes of

   `consciousness' according to their information-processing capacity.


   Because hackers accept a that a human machine can have intentions, it

   is therefore easy for them to ascribe consciousness and intention to

   complex patterned systems such as computers. If consciousness is

   mechanical, it is neither more or less absurd to say that "The program

   wants to go into an infinite loop" than it is to say that "I want to

   go eat some chocolate" - and even defensible to say that "The stone,

   once dropped, wants to move towards the center of the earth".


   This viewpoint has respectable company in academic philosophy. Daniel

   Dennett organizes explanations of behavior using three stances: the

   "physical stance" (thing-to-be-explained as a physical object), the

   "design stance" (thing-to-be-explained as an artifact), and the

   "intentional stance" (thing-to-be-explained as an agent with desires

   and intentions). Which stances are appropriate is a matter not of

   truth but of utility. Hackers typically view simple programs from the

   design stance, but more complex ones are modelled using the

   intentional stance.



   Node:Comparatives, Previous:[113]Anthropomorphization, Up:[114]Jargon





   Finally, note that many words in hacker jargon have to be understood

   as members of sets of comparatives. This is especially true of the

   adjectives and nouns used to describe the beauty and functional

   quality of code. Here is an approximately correct spectrum:


     monstrosity brain-damage screw bug lose misfeature

     crock kluge hack win feature elegance perfection


   The last is spoken of as a mythical absolute, approximated but never

   actually attained. Another similar scale is used for describing the

   reliability of software:


     broken flaky dodgy fragile brittle

     solid robust bulletproof armor-plated


   Note, however, that `dodgy' is primarily Commonwealth Hackish (it is

   rare in the U.S.) and may change places with `flaky' for some



   Coinages for describing [115]lossage seem to call forth the very

   finest in hackish linguistic inventiveness; it has been truly said

   that hackers have even more words for equipment failures than Yiddish

   has for obnoxious people.



   Node:Hacker Writing Style, Next:[116]Email Quotes,

   Previous:[117]Jargon Construction, Up:[118]Top


Hacker Writing Style

   We've already seen that hackers often coin jargon by overgeneralizing

   grammatical rules. This is one aspect of a more general fondness for

   form-versus-content language jokes that shows up particularly in

   hackish writing. One correspondent reports that he consistently

   misspells `wrong' as `worng'. Others have been known to criticize

   glitches in Jargon File drafts by observing (in the mode of Douglas

   Hofstadter) "This sentence no verb", or "Too repetetetive", or "Bad

   speling", or "Incorrectspa cing." Similarly, intentional spoonerisms

   are often made of phrases relating to confusion or things that are

   confusing; `dain bramage' for `brain damage' is perhaps the most

   common (similarly, a hacker would be likely to write "Excuse me, I'm

   cixelsyd today", rather than "I'm dyslexic today"). This sort of thing

   is quite common and is enjoyed by all concerned.


   Hackers tend to use quotes as balanced delimiters like parentheses,

   much to the dismay of American editors. Thus, if "Jim is going" is a

   phrase, and so are "Bill runs" and "Spock groks", then hackers

   generally prefer to write: "Jim is going", "Bill runs", and "Spock

   groks". This is incorrect according to standard American usage (which

   would put the continuation commas and the final period inside the

   string quotes); however, it is counter-intuitive to hackers to

   mutilate literal strings with characters that don't belong in them.

   Given the sorts of examples that can come up in discussions of

   programming, American-style quoting can even be grossly misleading.

   When communicating command lines or small pieces of code, extra

   characters can be a real pain in the neck.


   Consider, for example, a sentence in a [119]vi tutorial that looks

   like this:


     Then delete a line from the file by typing "dd".


   Standard usage would make this


     Then delete a line from the file by typing "dd."


   but that would be very bad -- because the reader would be prone to

   type the string d-d-dot, and it happens that in vi(1) dot repeats the

   last command accepted. The net result would be to delete two lines!


   The Jargon File follows hackish usage throughout.


   Interestingly, a similar style is now preferred practice in Great

   Britain, though the older style (which became established for

   typographical reasons having to do with the aesthetics of comma and

   quotes in typeset text) is still accepted there. "Hart's Rules" and

   the "Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors" call the hacker-like

   style `new' or `logical' quoting. This returns British English to the

   style Latin languages (including Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan)

   have been using all along.


   Another hacker habit is a tendency to distinguish between `scare'

   quotes and `speech' quotes; that is, to use British-style single

   quotes for marking and reserve American-style double quotes for actual

   reports of speech or text included from elsewhere. Interestingly, some

   authorities describe this as correct general usage, but mainstream

   American English has gone to using double-quotes indiscriminately

   enough that hacker usage appears marked [and, in fact, I thought this

   was a personal quirk of mine until I checked with Usenet --ESR]. One

   further permutation that is definitely not standard is a hackish

   tendency to do marking quotes by using apostrophes (single quotes) in

   pairs; that is, 'like this'. This is modelled on string and character

   literal syntax in some programming languages (reinforced by the fact

   that many character-only terminals display the apostrophe in

   typewriter style, as a vertical single quote).


   One quirk that shows up frequently in the [120]email style of Unix

   hackers in particular is a tendency for some things that are normally

   all-lowercase (including usernames and the names of commands and C

   routines) to remain uncapitalized even when they occur at the

   beginning of sentences. It is clear that, for many hackers, the case

   of such identifiers becomes a part of their internal representation

   (the `spelling') and cannot be overridden without mental effort (an

   appropriate reflex because Unix and C both distinguish cases and

   confusing them can lead to [121]lossage). A way of escaping this

   dilemma is simply to avoid using these constructions at the beginning

   of sentences.


   There seems to be a meta-rule behind these nonstandard hackerisms to

   the effect that precision of expression is more important than

   conformance to traditional rules; where the latter create ambiguity or

   lose information they can be discarded without a second thought. It is

   notable in this respect that other hackish inventions (for example, in

   vocabulary) also tend to carry very precise shades of meaning even

   when constructed to appear slangy and loose. In fact, to a hacker, the

   contrast between `loose' form and `tight' content in jargon is a

   substantial part of its humor!


   Hackers have also developed a number of punctuation and emphasis

   conventions adapted to single-font all-ASCII communications links, and

   these are occasionally carried over into written documents even when

   normal means of font changes, underlining, and the like are available.


   One of these is that TEXT IN ALL CAPS IS INTERPRETED AS `LOUD', and

   this becomes such an ingrained synesthetic reflex that a person who

   goes to caps-lock while in [122]talk mode may be asked to "stop

   shouting, please, you're hurting my ears!".


   Also, it is common to use bracketing with unusual characters to

   signify emphasis. The asterisk is most common, as in "What the

   *hell*?" even though this interferes with the common use of the

   asterisk suffix as a footnote mark. The underscore is also common,

   suggesting underlining (this is particularly common with book titles;

   for example, "It is often alleged that Joe Haldeman wrote

   _The_Forever_War_ as a rebuttal to Robert Heinlein's earlier novel of

   the future military, _Starship_Troopers_."). Other forms exemplified

   by "=hell=", "\hell/", or "/hell/" are occasionally seen (it's claimed

   that in the last example the first slash pushes the letters over to

   the right to make them italic, and the second keeps them from falling

   over). On FidoNet, you might see #bright# and ^dark^ text, which was

   actually interpreted by some reader software. Finally, words may also

   be emphasized L I K E T H I S, or by a series of carets (^) under them

   on the next line of the text.


   There is a semantic difference between *emphasis like this* (which

   emphasizes the phrase as a whole), and *emphasis* *like* *this* (which

   suggests the writer speaking very slowly and distinctly, as if to a

   very young child or a mentally impaired person). Bracketing a word

   with the `*' character may also indicate that the writer wishes

   readers to consider that an action is taking place or that a sound is

   being made. Examples: *bang*, *hic*, *ring*, *grin*, *kick*, *stomp*,



   One might also see the above sound effects as <bang>, <hic>, <ring>,

   <grin>, <kick>, <stomp>, <mumble>. This use of angle brackets to mark

   their contents originally derives from conventions used in [123]BNF,

   but since about 1993 it has been reinforced by the HTML markup used on

   the World Wide Web.


   Angle-bracket enclosure is also used to indicate that a term stands

   for some [124]random member of a larger class (this is straight from

   [125]BNF). Examples like the following are common:

So this <ethnic> walks into a bar one day...

   There is also an accepted convention for `writing under erasure'; the


Be nice to this fool^H^H^H^Hgentleman,

he's visiting from corporate HQ.

   reads roughly as "Be nice to this fool, er, gentleman...", with irony

   emphasized. The digraph ^H is often used as a print representation for

   a backspace, and was actually very visible on old-style printing

   terminals. As the text was being composed the characters would be

   echoed and printed immediately, and when a correction was made the

   backspace keystrokes would be echoed with the string '^H'. Of course,

   the final composed text would have no trace of the backspace

   characters (or the original erroneous text).


   This convention parallels (and may have been influenced by) the ironic

   use of `slashouts' in science-fiction fanzines.


   A related habit uses editor commands to signify corrections to

   previous text. This custom faded in email as more mailers got good

   editing capabilities, only to tale on new life on IRCs and other

   line-based chat systems.

I've seen that term used on alt.foobar often.

Send it to Erik for the File.


   The s/Erik/Eric/ says "change Erik to Eric in the preceding". This

   syntax is borrowed from the Unix editing tools ed and sed, but is

   widely recognized by non-Unix hackers as well.


   In a formula, * signifies multiplication but two asterisks in a row

   are a shorthand for exponentiation (this derives from FORTRAN). Thus,

   one might write 2 ** 8 = 256.


   Another notation for exponentiation one sees more frequently uses the

   caret (^, ASCII 1011110); one might write instead 2^8 = 256. This goes

   all the way back to Algol-60, which used the archaic ASCII `up-arrow'

   that later became the caret; this was picked up by Kemeny and Kurtz's

   original BASIC, which in turn influenced the design of the bc(1) and

   dc(1) Unix tools, which have probably done most to reinforce the

   convention on Usenet. (TeX math mode also uses ^ for exponention.) The

   notation is mildly confusing to C programmers, because ^ means bitwise

   exclusive-or in C. Despite this, it was favored 3:1 over ** in a

   late-1990 snapshot of Usenet. It is used consistently in this lexicon.


   In on-line exchanges, hackers tend to use decimal forms or improper

   fractions (`3.5' or `7/2') rather than `typewriter style' mixed

   fractions (`3-1/2'). The major motive here is probably that the former

   are more readable in a monospaced font, together with a desire to

   avoid the risk that the latter might be read as `three minus

   one-half'. The decimal form is definitely preferred for fractions with

   a terminating decimal representation; there may be some cultural

   influence here from the high status of scientific notation.


   Another on-line convention, used especially for very large or very

   small numbers, is taken from C (which derived it from FORTRAN). This

   is a form of `scientific notation' using `e' to replace `*10^'; for

   example, one year is about 3e7 seconds long.


   The tilde (~) is commonly used in a quantifying sense of

   `approximately'; that is, ~50 means `about fifty'.


   On Usenet and in the [126]MUD world, common C boolean, logical, and

   relational operators such as |, &, ||, &&, !, ==, !=, >, <, >=, and =<

   are often combined with English. The Pascal not-equals, <>, is also

   recognized, and occasionally one sees /= for not-equals (from Ada,

   Common Lisp, and Fortran 90). The use of prefix `!' as a loose synonym

   for `not-' or `no-' is particularly common; thus, `!clue' is read

   `no-clue' or `clueless'.


   A related practice borrows syntax from preferred programming languages

   to express ideas in a natural-language text. For example, one might

   see the following:

In <> J. R. Hacker wrote:

>I recently had occasion to field-test the Snafu

>Systems 2300E adaptive gonkulator.  The price was

>right, and the racing stripe on the case looked

>kind of neat, but its performance left something

>to be desired.

Yeah, I tried one out too.

#ifdef FLAME

Hasn't anyone told those idiots that you can't get

decent bogon suppression with AFJ filters at today's

net volumes?

#endif /* FLAME */

I guess they figured the price premium for true

frame-based semantic analysis was too high.

Unfortunately, it's also the only workable approach.

I wouldn't recommend purchase of this product unless

you're on a *very* tight budget.

#include <disclaimer.h>


                 == Frank Foonly (Fubarco Systems)

   In the above, the #ifdef/#endif pair is a conditional compilation

   syntax from C; here, it implies that the text between (which is a

   [127]flame) should be evaluated only if you have turned on (or defined

   on) the switch FLAME. The #include at the end is C for "include

   standard disclaimer here"; the `standard disclaimer' is understood to

   read, roughly, "These are my personal opinions and not to be construed

   as the official position of my employer."


   The top section in the example, with > at the left margin, is an

   example of an inclusion convention we'll discuss below.


   More recently, following on the huge popularity of the World Wide Web,

   pseudo-HTML markup has become popular for similar purposes:


Your father was a hamster and your mother smelt of elderberries!


   You'll even see this with an HTML-style modifier:

<flame intensity="100%">

You seem well-suited for a career in government.


   Another recent (late 1990s) construction now common on USENET seems to

   be borrowed from Perl. It consists of using a dollar sign before an

   uppercased form of a word or acronym to suggest any [128]random member

   of the class indicated by the word. Thus: `$PHB' means "any random

   member of the class `Pointy-Haired Boss'".


   Hackers also mix letters and numbers more freely than in mainstream

   usage. In particular, it is good hackish style to write a digit

   sequence where you intend the reader to understand the text string

   that names that number in English. So, hackers prefer to write `1970s'

   rather than `nineteen-seventies' or `1970's' (the latter looks like a



   It should also be noted that hackers exhibit much less reluctance to

   use multiply-nested parentheses than is normal in English. Part of

   this is almost certainly due to influence from LISP (which uses deeply

   nested parentheses (like this (see?)) in its syntax a lot), but it has

   also been suggested that a more basic hacker trait of enjoying playing

   with complexity and pushing systems to their limits is in operation.


   Finally, it is worth mentioning that many studies of on-line

   communication have shown that electronic links have a de-inhibiting

   effect on people. Deprived of the body-language cues through which

   emotional state is expressed, people tend to forget everything about

   other parties except what is presented over that ASCII link. This has

   both good and bad effects. A good one is that it encourages honesty

   and tends to break down hierarchical authority relationships; a bad

   one is that it may encourage depersonalization and gratuitous

   rudeness. Perhaps in response to this, experienced netters often

   display a sort of conscious formal politesse in their writing that has

   passed out of fashion in other spoken and written media (for example,

   the phrase "Well said, sir!" is not uncommon).


   Many introverted hackers who are next to inarticulate in person

   communicate with considerable fluency over the net, perhaps precisely

   because they can forget on an unconscious level that they are dealing

   with people and thus don't feel stressed and anxious as they would

   face to face.


   Though it is considered gauche to publicly criticize posters for poor

   spelling or grammar, the network places a premium on literacy and

   clarity of expression. It may well be that future historians of

   literature will see in it a revival of the great tradition of personal

   letters as art.



   Node:Email Quotes, Next:[129]Hacker Speech Style, Previous:[130]Hacker

   Writing Style, Up:[131]Top


Email Quotes and Inclusion Conventions

   One area where conventions for on-line writing are still in some flux

   is the marking of included material from earlier messages -- what

   would be called `block quotations' in ordinary English. From the usual

   typographic convention employed for these (smaller font at an extra

   indent), there derived a practice of included text being indented by

   one ASCII TAB (0001001) character, which under Unix and many other

   environments gives the appearance of an 8-space indent.


   Early mail and netnews readers had no facility for including messages

   this way, so people had to paste in copy manually. BSD Mail(1) was the

   first message agent to support inclusion, and early Usenetters

   emulated its style. But the TAB character tended to push included text

   too far to the right (especially in multiply nested inclusions),

   leading to ugly wraparounds. After a brief period of confusion (during

   which an inclusion leader consisting of three or four spaces became

   established in EMACS and a few mailers), the use of leading > or >

   became standard, perhaps owing to its use in ed(1) to display tabs

   (alternatively, it may derive from the > that some early Unix mailers

   used to quote lines starting with "From" in text, so they wouldn't

   look like the beginnings of new message headers). Inclusions within

   inclusions keep their > leaders, so the `nesting level' of a quotation

   is visually apparent.


   The practice of including text from the parent article when posting a

   followup helped solve what had been a major nuisance on Usenet: the

   fact that articles do not arrive at different sites in the same order.

   Careless posters used to post articles that would begin with, or even

   consist entirely of, "No, that's wrong" or "I agree" or the like. It

   was hard to see who was responding to what. Consequently, around 1984,

   new news-posting software evolved a facility to automatically include

   the text of a previous article, marked with "> " or whatever the

   poster chose. The poster was expected to delete all but the relevant

   lines. The result has been that, now, careless posters post articles

   containing the entire text of a preceding article, followed only by

   "No, that's wrong" or "I agree".


   Many people feel that this cure is worse than the original disease,

   and there soon appeared newsreader software designed to let the reader

   skip over included text if desired. Today, some posting software

   rejects articles containing too high a proportion of lines beginning

   with `>' -- but this too has led to undesirable workarounds, such as

   the deliberate inclusion of zero-content filler lines which aren't

   quoted and thus pull the message below the rejection threshold.


   Because the default mailers supplied with Unix and other operating

   systems haven't evolved as quickly as human usage, the older

   conventions using a leading TAB or three or four spaces are still

   alive; however, >-inclusion is now clearly the prevalent form in both

   netnews and mail.


   Inclusion practice is still evolving, and disputes over the `correct'

   inclusion style occasionally lead to [132]holy wars.


   Most netters view an inclusion as a promise that comment on it will

   immediately follow. The preferred, conversational style looks like


     > relevant excerpt 1

     response to excerpt

     > relevant excerpt 2

     response to excerpt

     > relevant excerpt 3

     response to excerpt

   or for short messages like this:

     > entire message

     response to message

   Thanks to poor design of some PC-based mail agents, one will

   occasionally see the entire quoted message after the response, like


     response to message

     > entire message

   but this practice is strongly deprecated.


   Though > remains the standard inclusion leader, | is occasionally used

   for extended quotations where original variations in indentation are

   being retained (one mailer even combines these and uses |>). One also

   sees different styles of quoting a number of authors in the same

   message: one (deprecated because it loses information) uses a leader

   of >  for everyone, another (the most common) is > > > > , > > > ,

   etc. (or >>>> , >>>, etc., depending on line length and nesting depth)

   reflecting the original order of messages, and yet another is to use a

   different citation leader for each author, say > , : , | , }

   (preserving nesting so that the inclusion order of messages is still

   apparent, or tagging the inclusions with authors' names). Yet another

   style is to use each poster's initials (or login name) as a citation

   leader for that poster.


   Occasionally one sees a #  leader used for quotations from

   authoritative sources such as standards documents; the intended

   allusion is to the root prompt (the special Unix command prompt issued

   when one is running as the privileged super-user).



   Node:Hacker Speech Style, Next:[133]International Style,

   Previous:[134]Email Quotes, Up:[135]Top


Hacker Speech Style

   Hackish speech generally features extremely precise diction, careful

   word choice, a relatively large working vocabulary, and relatively

   little use of contractions or street slang. Dry humor, irony, puns,

   and a mildly flippant attitude are highly valued -- but an underlying

   seriousness and intelligence are essential. One should use just enough

   jargon to communicate precisely and identify oneself as a member of

   the culture; overuse of jargon or a breathless, excessively gung-ho

   attitude is considered tacky and the mark of a loser.


   This speech style is a variety of the precisionist English normally

   spoken by scientists, design engineers, and academics in technical

   fields. In contrast with the methods of jargon construction, it is

   fairly constant throughout hackerdom.


   It has been observed that many hackers are confused by negative

   questions -- or, at least, that the people to whom they are talking

   are often confused by the sense of their answers. The problem is that

   they have done so much programming that distinguishes between

if (going) ...


if (!going) ...

   that when they parse the question "Aren't you going?" it may seem to

   be asking the opposite question from "Are you going?", and so to merit

   an answer in the opposite sense. This confuses English-speaking

   non-hackers because they were taught to answer as though the negative

   part weren't there. In some other languages (including Russian,

   Chinese, and Japanese) the hackish interpretation is standard and the

   problem wouldn't arise. Hackers often find themselves wishing for a

   word like French `si', German `doch', or Dutch `jawel' - a word with

   which one could unambiguously answer `yes' to a negative question.

   (See also [136]mu)


   For similar reasons, English-speaking hackers almost never use double

   negatives, even if they live in a region where colloquial usage allows

   them. The thought of uttering something that logically ought to be an

   affirmative knowing it will be misparsed as a negative tends to

   disturb them.


   In a related vein, hackers sometimes make a game of answering

   questions containing logical connectives with a strictly literal

   rather than colloquial interpretation. A non-hacker who is indelicate

   enough to ask a question like "So, are you working on finding that bug

   now or leaving it until later?" is likely to get the perfectly correct

   answer "Yes!" (that is, "Yes, I'm doing it either now or later, and

   you didn't ask which!").



   Node:International Style, Next:[137]Lamer-speak, Previous:[138]Hacker

   Speech Style, Up:[139]Top


International Style

   Although the Jargon File remains primarily a lexicon of hacker usage

   in American English, we have made some effort to get input from

   abroad. Though the hacker-speak of other languages often uses

   translations of jargon from English (often as transmitted to them by

   earlier Jargon File versions!), the local variations are interesting,

   and knowledge of them may be of some use to travelling hackers.


   There are some references herein to `Commonwealth hackish'. These are

   intended to describe some variations in hacker usage as reported in

   the English spoken in Great Britain and the Commonwealth (Canada,

   Australia, India, etc. -- though Canada is heavily influenced by

   American usage). There is also an entry on [140]Commonwealth Hackish

   reporting some general phonetic and vocabulary differences from U.S.



   Hackers in Western Europe and (especially) Scandinavia report that

   they often use a mixture of English and their native languages for

   technical conversation. Occasionally they develop idioms in their

   English usage that are influenced by their native-language styles.

   Some of these are reported here.


   On the other hand, English often gives rise to grammatical and

   vocabulary mutations in the native language. For example, Italian

   hackers often use the nonexistent verbs `scrollare' (to scroll) and

   `deletare' (to delete) rather than native Italian `scorrere' and

   `cancellare'. Similarly, the English verb `to hack' has been seen

   conjugated in Swedish. In German, many Unix terms in English are

   casually declined as if they were German verbs - thus:

   mount/mounten/gemountet; grep/grepen/gegrept; fork/forken/geforkt;

   core dump/core-dumpen, core-gedumpt. And Spanish-speaking hackers use

   `linkar' (to link), `debugear' (to debug), and `lockear' (to lock).


   European hackers report that this happens partly because the English

   terms make finer distinctions than are available in their native

   vocabularies, and partly because deliberate language-crossing makes

   for amusing wordplay.


   A few notes on hackish usages in Russian have been added where they

   are parallel with English idioms and thus comprehensible to




   Node:Lamer-speak, Next:[141]Pronunciation Guide,

   Previous:[142]International Style, Up:[143]Top


Crackers, Phreaks, and Lamers

   From the early 1980s onward, a flourishing culture of local,

   MS-DOS-based bulletin boards developed separately from Internet

   hackerdom. The BBS culture has, as its seamy underside, a stratum of

   `pirate boards' inhabited by [144]crackers, phone phreaks, and

   [145]warez d00dz. These people (mostly teenagers running IBM-PC clones

   from their bedrooms) have developed their own characteristic jargon,

   heavily influenced by skateboard lingo and underground-rock slang.


   Though crackers often call themselves `hackers', they aren't (they

   typically have neither significant programming ability, nor Internet

   expertise, nor experience with UNIX or other true multi-user systems).

   Their vocabulary has little overlap with hackerdom's. Nevertheless,

   this lexicon covers much of it so the reader will be able to

   understand what goes by on bulletin-board systems.


   Here is a brief guide to cracker and [146]warez d00dz usage:

     * Misspell frequently. The substitutions

     phone => fone

     freak => phreak

       are obligatory.

     * Always substitute `z's for `s's. (i.e. "codes" -> "codez"). The

       substitution of 'z' for 's' has evolved so that a 'z' is bow

       systematically put at the end of words to denote an illegal or

       cracking connection. Examples : Appz, passwordz, passez, utilz,

       MP3z, distroz, pornz, sitez, gamez, crackz, serialz, downloadz,

       FTPz, etc.

     * Type random emphasis characters after a post line (i.e. "Hey


     * Use the emphatic `k' prefix ("k-kool", "k-rad", "k-awesome")


     * Abbreviate compulsively ("I got lotsa warez w/ docs").

     * Substitute `0' for `o' ("r0dent", "l0zer").




   These traits are similar to those of [147]B1FF, who originated as a

   parody of naive [148]BBS users; also of his latter-day equivalent

   [149]Jeff K.. Occasionally, this sort of distortion may be used as

   heavy sarcasm by a real hacker, as in:

    > I got X Windows running under Linux!

    d00d!  u R an 31337 hax0r

   The only practice resembling this in actual hacker usage is the

   substitution of a dollar sign of `s' in names of products or service

   felt to be excessively expensive, e.g. Compu$erve, Micro$oft.


   For further discussion of the pirate-board subculture, see [150]lamer,

   [151]elite, [152]leech, [153]poser, [154]cracker, and especially

   [155]warez d00dz, [156]banner site, [157]ratio site, [158]leech mode.



   Node:Pronunciation Guide, Next:[159]Other Lexicon Conventions,

   Previous:[160]Lamer-speak, Up:[161]Top


                            How to Use the Lexicon


Pronunciation Guide

   Pronunciation keys are provided in the jargon listings for all entries

   that are neither dictionary words pronounced as in standard English

   nor obvious compounds thereof. Slashes bracket phonetic

   pronunciations, which are to be interpreted using the following


    1. Syllables are hyphen-separated, except that an accent or

       back-accent follows each accented syllable (the back-accent marks

       a secondary accent in some words of four or more syllables). If no

       accent is given, the word is pronounced with equal accentuation on

       all syllables (this is common for abbreviations).

    2. Consonants are pronounced as in American English. The letter `g'

       is always hard (as in "got" rather than "giant"); `ch' is soft

       ("church" rather than "chemist"). The letter `j' is the sound that

       occurs twice in "judge". The letter `s' is always as in "pass",

       never a z sound. The digraph `kh' is the guttural of "loch" or

       "l'chaim". The digraph 'gh' is the aspirated g+h of "bughouse" or

       "ragheap" (rare in English).

    3. Uppercase letters are pronounced as their English letter names;

       thus (for example) /H-L-L/ is equivalent to /aych el el/. /Z/ may

       be pronounced /zee/ or /zed/ depending on your local dialect.

    4. Vowels are represented as follows:



                back, that



                father, palm (see note)



                far, mark



                flaw, caught



                bake, rain



                less, men



                easy, ski



                their, software



                trip, hit



                life, sky



                block, stock (see note)



                flow, sew



                loot, through



                more, door



                out, how



                boy, coin



                but, some



                put, foot



                yet, young



                few, chew



                /oo/ with optional fronting as in `news' (/nooz/ or



   The glyph /*/ is used for the `schwa' sound of unstressed or occluded

   vowels (the one that is often written with an upside-down `e'). The

   schwa vowel is omitted in syllables containing vocalic r, l, m or n;

   that is, `kitten' and `color' would be rendered /kit'n/ and /kuhl'r/,

   not /kit'*n/ and /kuhl'*r/.


   Note that the above table reflects mainly distinctions found in

   standard American English (that is, the neutral dialect spoken by TV

   network announcers and typical of educated speech in the Upper

   Midwest, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Philadelphia). However, we

   separate /o/ from /ah/, which tend to merge in standard American. This

   may help readers accustomed to accents resembling British Received



   The intent of this scheme is to permit as many readers as possible to

   map the pronunciations into their local dialect by ignoring some

   subset of the distinctions we make. Speakers of British RP, for

   example, can smash terminal /r/ and all unstressed vowels. Speakers of

   many varieties of southern American will automatically map /o/ to

   /aw/; and so forth. (Standard American makes a good reference dialect

   for this purpose because it has crisp consonants and more vowel

   distinctions than other major dialects, and tends to retain

   distinctions between unstressed vowels. It also happens to be what

   your editor speaks.)


   Entries with a pronunciation of `//' are written-only usages. (No,

   Unix weenies, this does not mean `pronounce like previous




   Node:Other Lexicon Conventions, Next:[162]Format for New Entries,

   Previous:[163]Pronunciation Guide, Up:[164]Top


Other Lexicon Conventions

   Entries are sorted in case-blind ASCII collation order (rather than

   the letter-by-letter order ignoring interword spacing common in

   mainstream dictionaries), except that all entries beginning with

   nonalphabetic characters are sorted after Z. The case-blindness is a

   feature, not a bug.


   The beginning of each entry is marked by a colon (:) at the left

   margin. This convention helps out tools like hypertext browsers that

   benefit from knowing where entry boundaries are, but aren't as

   context-sensitive as humans.


   In pure ASCII renderings of the Jargon File, you will see {} used to

   bracket words which themselves have entries in the File. This isn't

   done all the time for every such word, but it is done everywhere that

   a reminder seems useful that the term has a jargon meaning and one

   might wish to refer to its entry.


   In this all-ASCII version, headwords for topic entries are

   distinguished from those for ordinary entries by being followed by

   "::" rather than ":"; similarly, references are surrounded by "{{" and

   "}}" rather than "{" and "}".


   Defining instances of terms and phrases appear in `slanted type'. A

   defining instance is one which occurs near to or as part of an

   explanation of it.


   Prefixed ** is used as linguists do; to mark examples of incorrect



   We follow the `logical' quoting convention described in the Writing

   Style section above. In addition, we reserve double quotes for actual

   excerpts of text or (sometimes invented) speech. Scare quotes (which

   mark a word being used in a nonstandard way), and philosopher's quotes

   (which turn an utterance into the string of letters or words that name

   it) are both rendered with single quotes.


   References such as malloc(3) and patch(1) are to Unix facilities (some

   of which, such as patch(1), are actually freeware distributed over

   Usenet). The Unix manuals use foo(n) to refer to item foo in section

   (n) of the manual, where n=1 is utilities, n=2 is system calls, n=3 is

   C library routines, n=6 is games, and n=8 (where present) is system

   administration utilities. Sections 4, 5, and 7 of the manuals have

   changed roles frequently and in any case are not referred to in any of

   the entries.


   Various abbreviations used frequently in the lexicon are summarized





























































          synonym (or synonymous with)



          verb (may be transitive or intransitive)






          intransitive verb



          transitive verb


   Where alternate spellings or pronunciations are given, alt. separates

   two possibilities with nearly equal distribution, while var. prefixes

   one that is markedly less common than the primary.


   Where a term can be attributed to a particular subculture or is known

   to have originated there, we have tried to so indicate. Here is a list

   of abbreviations used in etymologies:


   Amateur Packet Radio

          A technical culture of ham-radio sites using AX.25 and TCP/IP

          for wide-area networking and BBS systems.



          University of California at Berkeley



          Bolt, Beranek & Newman



          the university in England (not the city in Massachusetts where

          MIT happens to be located!)



          Carnegie-Mellon University



          Commodore Business Machines



          The Digital Equipment Corporation (now Compaq).



          The Fairchild Instruments Palo Alto development group



          See the [165]FidoNet entry



          International Business Machines



          Massachusetts Institute of Technology; esp. the legendary MIT

          AI Lab culture of roughly 1971 to 1983 and its feeder groups,

          including the Tech Model Railroad Club



          Naval Research Laboratories



          New York University



          The Oxford English Dictionary



          Purdue University



          Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (at Stanford




          From Système International, the name for the standard

          conventions of metric nomenclature used in the sciences



          Stanford University



          Sun Microsystems



          Some MITisms go back as far as the Tech Model Railroad Club

          (TMRC) at MIT c. 1960. Material marked TMRC is from "An

          Abridged Dictionary of the TMRC Language", originally compiled

          by Pete Samson in 1959



          University of California at Los Angeles



          the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland)



          See the [166]Usenet entry



          Worcester Polytechnic Institute, site of a very active

          community of PDP-10 hackers during the 1970s



          The World-Wide-Web.



          XEROX's Palo Alto Research Center, site of much pioneering

          research in user interface design and networking



          Yale University


   Some other etymology abbreviations such as [167]Unix and [168]PDP-10

   refer to technical cultures surrounding specific operating systems,

   processors, or other environments. The fact that a term is labelled

   with any one of these abbreviations does not necessarily mean its use

   is confined to that culture. In particular, many terms labelled `MIT'

   and `Stanford' are in quite general use. We have tried to give some

   indication of the distribution of speakers in the usage notes;

   however, a number of factors mentioned in the introduction conspire to

   make these indications less definite than might be desirable.


   A few new definitions attached to entries are marked [proposed]. These

   are usually generalizations suggested by editors or Usenet respondents

   in the process of commenting on previous definitions of those entries.

   These are not represented as established jargon.



   Node:Format for New Entries, Next:[169]The Jargon Lexicon,

   Previous:[170]Other Lexicon Conventions, Up:[171]Top


Format For New Entries

   You can mail submissions for the Jargon File to



   We welcome new jargon, and corrections to or amplifications of

   existing entries. You can improve your submission's chances of being

   included by adding background information on user population and years

   of currency. References to actual usage via URLs and/or DejaNews

   pointers are particularly welcomed.


   All contributions and suggestions about the Jargon File will be

   considered donations to be placed in the public domain as part of this

   File, and may be used in subsequent paper editions. Submissions may be

   edited for accuracy, clarity and concision.


   We are looking to expand the File's range of technical specialties

   covered. There are doubtless rich veins of jargon yet untapped in the

   scientific computing, graphics, and networking hacker communities;

   also in numerical analysis, computer architectures and VLSI design,

   language design, and many other related fields. Send us your jargon!


   We are not interested in straight technical terms explained by

   textbooks or technical dictionaries unless an entry illuminates

   `underground' meanings or aspects not covered by official histories.

   We are also not interested in `joke' entries -- there is a lot of

   humor in the file but it must flow naturally out of the explanations

   of what hackers do and how they think.


   It is OK to submit items of jargon you have originated if they have

   spread to the point of being used by people who are not personally

   acquainted with you. We prefer items to be attested by independent

   submission from two different sites.


   An HTML version of the File is available at Please send us URLs for materials

   related to the entries, so we can enrich the File's link structure.


   The Jargon File will be regularly maintained and made available for

   browsing on the World Wide Web, and will include a version number.

   Read it, pass it around, contribute -- this is your monument!



   Node:The Jargon Lexicon, Next:[173]Appendix A, Previous:[174]Format

   for New Entries, Up:[175]Top


                              The Jargon Lexicon


     * [176]= 0 =:

     * [177]= A =:

     * [178]= B =:

     * [179]= C =:

     * [180]= D =:

     * [181]= E =:

     * [182]= F =:

     * [183]= G =:

     * [184]= H =:

     * [185]= I =:

     * [186]= J =:

     * [187]= K =:

     * [188]= L =:

     * [189]= M =:

     * [190]= N =:

     * [191]= O =:

     * [192]= P =:

     * [193]= Q =:

     * [194]= R =:

     * [195]= S =:

     * [196]= T =:

     * [197]= U =:

     * [198]= V =:

     * [199]= W =:

     * [200]= X =:

     * [201]= Y =:

     * [202]= Z =:



   Node:= 0 =, Next:[203]= A =, Up:[204]The Jargon Lexicon


= 0 =

     * [205]0:

     * [206]1TBS:

     * [207]120 reset:

     * [208]2:

     * [209]404:

     * [210]404 compliant:

     * [211]4.2:

     * [212]@-party:



   Node:0, Next:[213]1TBS, Up:[214]= 0 =




   Numeric zero, as opposed to the letter `O' (the 15th letter of the

   English alphabet). In their unmodified forms they look a lot alike,

   and various kluges invented to make them visually distinct have

   compounded the confusion. If your zero is center-dotted and letter-O

   is not, or if letter-O looks almost rectangular but zero looks more

   like an American football stood on end (or the reverse), you're

   probably looking at a modern character display (though the dotted zero

   seems to have originated as an option on IBM 3270 controllers). If

   your zero is slashed but letter-O is not, you're probably looking at

   an old-style ASCII graphic set descended from the default typewheel on

   the venerable ASR-33 Teletype (Scandinavians, for whom Ø is a letter,

   curse this arrangement). (Interestingly, the slashed zero long

   predates computers; Florian Cajori's monumental "A History of

   Mathematical Notations" notes that it was used in the twelfth and

   thirteenth centuries.) If letter-O has a slash across it and the zero

   does not, your display is tuned for a very old convention used at IBM

   and a few other early mainframe makers (Scandinavians curse this

   arrangement even more, because it means two of their letters collide).

   Some Burroughs/Unisys equipment displays a zero with a reversed slash.

   Old CDC computers rendered letter O as an unbroken oval and 0 as an

   oval broken at upper right and lower left. And yet another convention

   common on early line printers left zero unornamented but added a tail

   or hook to the letter-O so that it resembled an inverted Q or cursive

   capital letter-O (this was endorsed by a draft ANSI standard for how

   to draw ASCII characters, but the final standard changed the

   distinguisher to a tick-mark in the upper-left corner). Are we

   sufficiently confused yet?



   Node:1TBS, Next:[215]120 reset, Previous:[216]0, Up:[217]= 0 =


   1TBS // n.


   The "One True Brace Style"; see [218]indent style.



   Node:120 reset, Next:[219]2, Previous:[220]1TBS, Up:[221]= 0 =


   120 reset /wuhn-twen'tee ree'set/ n.


   [from 120 volts, U.S. wall voltage] To cycle power on a machine in

   order to reset or unjam it. Compare [222]Big Red Switch, [223]power




   Node:2, Next:[224]404, Previous:[225]120 reset, Up:[226]= 0 =


   2 infix.


   In translation software written by hackers, infix 2 often represents

   the syllable to with the connotation `translate to': as in dvi2ps (DVI

   to PostScript), int2string (integer to string), and texi2roff (Texinfo

   to [nt]roff). Several versions of a joke have floated around the

   internet in which some idiot programmer fixes the Y2K bug by changing

   all the Y's in something to K's, as in Januark, Februark, etc.



   Node:404, Next:[227]404 compliant, Previous:[228]2, Up:[229]= 0 =


   404 // n.


   [from the HTTP error "file not found on server"] Extended to humans to

   convey that the subject has no idea or no clue - sapience not found.

   May be used reflexively; "Uh, I'm 404ing" means "I'm drawing a blank".



   Node:404 compliant, Next:[230]4.2, Previous:[231]404, Up:[232]= 0 =


   404 compliant adj.


   The status of a website which has been completely removed, usually by

   the administrators of the hosting site as a result of net abuse by the

   website operators. The term is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the

   standard "301 compliant" Murkowski Bill disclaimer used by spammers.

   See also: [233]spam, [234]spamvertize.



   Node:4.2, Next:[235]@-party, Previous:[236]404 compliant, Up:[237]= 0



   4.2 /for' poynt too'/ n.


   Without a prefix, this almost invariably refers to [238]BSD Unix

   release 4.2. Note that it is an indication of cluelessness to say

   "version 4.2", and "release 4.2" is rare; the number stands on its

   own, or is used in the more explicit forms 4.2BSD or (less commonly)

   BSD 4.2. Similar remarks apply to "4.3", "4.4" and to earlier,

   less-widespread releases 4.1 and 2.9.



   Node:@-party, Next:[239]abbrev, Previous:[240]4.2, Up:[241]= 0 =


   @-party /at'par`tee/ n.


   [from the @-sign in an Internet address] (alt. `@-sign party' /at'si:n

   par`tee/) A semi-closed party thrown for hackers at a science-fiction

   convention (esp. the annual World Science Fiction Convention or

   "Worldcon"); one must have a [242]network address to get in, or at

   least be in company with someone who does. One of the most reliable

   opportunities for hackers to meet face to face with people who might

   otherwise be represented by mere phosphor dots on their screens.

   Compare [243]boink.


   The first recorded @-party was held at the Westercon (a U.S. western

   regional SF convention) over the July 4th weekend in 1980. It is not

   clear exactly when the canonical @-party venue shifted to the Worldcon

   but it had certainly become established by Constellation in 1983.

   Sadly, the @-party tradition has been in decline since about 1996,

   mainly because having an @-address no longer functions as an effective

   lodge pin.



   Node:= A =, Next:[244]= B =, Previous:[245]= 0 =, Up:[246]The Jargon



= A =

     * [247]abbrev:

     * [248]ABEND:

     * [249]accumulator:

     * [250]ACK:

     * [251]Acme:

     * [252]acolyte:

     * [253]ad-hockery:

     * [254]Ada:

     * [255]address harvester:

     * [256]adger:

     * [257]admin:

     * [258]ADVENT:

     * [259]AFAIK:

     * [260]AFJ:

     * [261]AFK:

     * [262]AI:

     * [263]AI-complete:

     * [264]AI koans:

     * [265]AIDS:

     * [266]AIDX:

     * [267]airplane rule:

     * [268]Alderson loop:

     * [269]aliasing bug:

     * [270]Alice and Bob:

     * [271]all-elbows:

     * [272]alpha geek:

     * [273]alpha particles:

     * [274]alt:

     * [275]alt bit:

     * [276]Aluminum Book:

     * [277]ambimouseterous:

     * [278]Amiga:

     * [279]Amiga Persecution Complex:

     * [280]amoeba:

     * [281]amp off:

     * [282]amper:

     * [283]Angband:

     * [284]angle brackets:

     * [285]angry fruit salad:

     * [286]annoybot:

     * [287]annoyware:

     * [288]ANSI:

     * [289]ANSI standard:

     * [290]ANSI standard pizza:

     * [291]AOL!:

     * [292]app:

     * [293]arena:

     * [294]arg:

     * [295]ARMM:

     * [296]armor-plated:

     * [297]asbestos:

     * [298]asbestos cork award:

     * [299]asbestos longjohns:

     * [300]ASCII:

     * [301]ASCII art:

     * [302]ASCIIbetical order:

     * [303]astroturfing:

     * [304]atomic:

     * [305]attoparsec:

     * [306]AUP:

     * [307]autobogotiphobia:

     * [308]automagically:

     * [309]avatar:

     * [310]awk:



   Node:abbrev, Next:[311]ABEND, Previous:[312]@-party, Up:[313]= A =


   abbrev /*-breev'/, /*-brev'/ n.


   Common abbreviation for `abbreviation'.



   Node:ABEND, Next:[314]accumulator, Previous:[315]abbrev, Up:[316]= A =


   ABEND /a'bend/, /*-bend'/ n.


   [ABnormal END] 1. Abnormal termination (of software); [317]crash;

   [318]lossage. Derives from an error message on the IBM 360; used

   jokingly by hackers but seriously mainly by [319]code grinders.

   Usually capitalized, but may appear as `abend'. Hackers will try to

   persuade you that ABEND is called `abend' because it is what system

   operators do to the machine late on Friday when they want to call it a

   day, and hence is from the German `Abend' = `Evening'. 2.

   [alt.callahans] Absent By Enforced Net Deprivation - used in the

   subject lines of postings warning friends of an imminent loss of

   Internet access. (This can be because of computer downtime, loss of

   provider, moving or illness.) Variants of this also appear: ABVND =

   `Absent By Voluntary Net Deprivation' and ABSEND = `Absent By

   Self-Enforced Net Deprivation' have been sighted.



   Node:accumulator, Next:[320]ACK, Previous:[321]ABEND, Up:[322]= A =


   accumulator n. obs.


   1. Archaic term for a register. On-line use of it as a synonym for

   `register' is a fairly reliable indication that the user has been

   around for quite a while and/or that the architecture under discussion

   is quite old. The term in full is almost never used of microprocessor

   registers, for example, though symbolic names for arithmetic registers

   beginning in `A' derive from historical use of the term `accumulator'

   (and not, actually, from `arithmetic'). Confusingly, though, an `A'

   register name prefix may also stand for `address', as for example on

   the Motorola 680x0 family. 2. A register being used for arithmetic or

   logic (as opposed to addressing or a loop index), especially one being

   used to accumulate a sum or count of many items. This use is in

   context of a particular routine or stretch of code. "The FOOBAZ

   routine uses A3 as an accumulator." 3. One's in-basket (esp. among

   old-timers who might use sense 1). "You want this reviewed? Sure, just

   put it in the accumulator." (See [323]stack.)



   Node:ACK, Next:[324]Acme, Previous:[325]accumulator, Up:[326]= A =


   ACK /ak/ interj.


   1. [common; from the ASCII mnemonic for 0000110] Acknowledge. Used to

   register one's presence (compare mainstream Yo!). An appropriate

   response to [327]ping or [328]ENQ. 2. [from the comic strip "Bloom

   County"] An exclamation of surprised disgust, esp. in "Ack pffft!"

   Semi-humorous. Generally this sense is not spelled in caps (ACK) and

   is distinguished by a following exclamation point. 3. Used to politely

   interrupt someone to tell them you understand their point (see

   [329]NAK). Thus, for example, you might cut off an overly long

   explanation with "Ack. Ack. Ack. I get it now". 4. An affirmative.

   "Think we ought to ditch that damn NT server for a Linux box?" "ACK!"


   There is also a usage "ACK?" (from sense 1) meaning "Are you there?",

   often used in email when earlier mail has produced no reply, or during

   a lull in [330]talk mode to see if the person has gone away (the

   standard humorous response is of course [331]NAK (sense 1), i.e., "I'm

   not here").



   Node:Acme, Next:[332]acolyte, Previous:[333]ACK, Up:[334]= A =


   Acme n.


   The canonical supplier of bizarre, elaborate, and non-functional

   gadgetry - where Rube Goldberg and Heath Robinson (two cartoonists who

   specialized in elaborate contraptions) shop. The name has been

   humorously expanded as A (or American) Company Making Everything. (In

   fact, Acme was a real brand sold from Sears Roebuck catalogs in the

   early 1900s.) Describing some X as an "Acme X" either means "This is

   [335]insanely great", or, more likely, "This looks [336]insanely great

   on paper, but in practice it's really easy to shoot yourself in the

   foot with it." Compare [337]pistol.


   This term, specially cherished by American hackers and explained here

   for the benefit of our overseas brethren, comes from the Warner

   Brothers' series of "Roadrunner" cartoons. In these cartoons, the

   famished Wile E. Coyote was forever attempting to catch up with, trap,

   and eat the Roadrunner. His attempts usually involved one or more

   high-technology Rube Goldberg devices - rocket jetpacks, catapults,

   magnetic traps, high-powered slingshots, etc. These were usually

   delivered in large cardboard boxes, labeled prominently with the Acme

   name. These devices invariably malfunctioned in improbable and violent




   Node:acolyte, Next:[338]ad-hockery, Previous:[339]Acme, Up:[340]= A =


   acolyte n. obs.


   [TMRC] An [341]OSU privileged enough to submit data and programs to a

   member of the [342]priesthood.



   Node:ad-hockery, Next:[343]Ada, Previous:[344]acolyte, Up:[345]= A =


   ad-hockery /ad-hok'*r-ee/ n.


   [Purdue] 1. Gratuitous assumptions made inside certain programs, esp.

   expert systems, which lead to the appearance of semi-intelligent

   behavior but are in fact entirely arbitrary. For example,

   fuzzy-matching of input tokens that might be typing errors against a

   symbol table can make it look as though a program knows how to spell.

   2. Special-case code to cope with some awkward input that would

   otherwise cause a program to [346]choke, presuming normal inputs are

   dealt with in some cleaner and more regular way. Also called

   `ad-hackery', `ad-hocity' (/ad-hos'*-tee/), `ad-crockery'. See also

   [347]ELIZA effect.



   Node:Ada, Next:[348]address harvester, Previous:[349]ad-hockery,

   Up:[350]= A =


   Ada n.


   A [351]Pascal-descended language that was at one time made mandatory

   for Department of Defense software projects by the Pentagon. Hackers

   are nearly unanimous in observing that, technically, it is precisely

   what one might expect given that kind of endorsement by fiat; designed

   by committee, crockish, difficult to use, and overall a disastrous,

   multi-billion-dollar boondoggle (one common description wss "The PL/I

   of the 1980s"). Hackers find Ada's exception-handling and

   inter-process communication features particularly hilarious. Ada

   Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron who became the world's first

   programmer while cooperating with Charles Babbage on the design of his

   mechanical computing engines in the mid-1800s) would almost certainly

   blanch at the use to which her name has latterly been put; the kindest

   thing that has been said about it is that there is probably a good

   small language screaming to get out from inside its vast,

   [352]elephantine bulk.



   Node:address harvester, Next:[353]adger, Previous:[354]Ada, Up:[355]=

   A =


   address harvester n.


   A robot that searches web pages and/or filters netnews traffic looking

   for valid email addresses. Some address harvesters are benign, used

   only for compiling address directories. Most, unfortunately, are run

   by miscreants compiling address lists to [356]spam. Address harvesters

   can be foiled by a [357]teergrube.



   Node:adger, Next:[358]admin, Previous:[359]address harvester,

   Up:[360]= A =


   adger /aj'r/ vt.


   [UCLA mutant of [361]nadger, poss. also from the middle name of an

   infamous [362]tenured graduate student] To make a bonehead move with

   consequences that could have been foreseen with even slight mental

   effort. E.g., "He started removing files and promptly adgered the

   whole project". Compare [363]dumbass attack.



   Node:admin, Next:[364]ADVENT, Previous:[365]adger, Up:[366]= A =


   admin /ad-min'/ n.


   Short for `administrator'; very commonly used in speech or on-line to

   refer to the systems person in charge on a computer. Common

   constructions on this include `sysadmin' and `site admin' (emphasizing

   the administrator's role as a site contact for email and news) or

   `newsadmin' (focusing specifically on news). Compare [367]postmaster,

   [368]sysop, [369]system mangler.



   Node:ADVENT, Next:[370]AFAIK, Previous:[371]admin, Up:[372]= A =


   ADVENT /ad'vent/ n.


   The prototypical computer adventure game, first designed by Will

   Crowther on the [373]PDP-10 in the mid-1970s as an attempt at

   computer-refereed fantasy gaming, and expanded into a puzzle-oriented

   game by Don Woods at Stanford in 1976. (Woods had been one of the

   authors of [374]INTERCAL.) Now better known as Adventure or Colossal

   Cave Adventure, but the [375]TOPS-10 operating system permitted only

   six-letter filenames. See also [376]vadding, [377]Zork, and



   This game defined the terse, dryly humorous style since expected in

   text adventure games, and popularized several tag lines that have

   become fixtures of hacker-speak: "A huge green fierce snake bars the

   way!" "I see no X here" (for some noun X). "You are in a maze of

   twisty little passages, all alike." "You are in a little maze of

   twisty passages, all different." The `magic words' [379]xyzzy and

   [380]plugh also derive from this game.


   Crowther, by the way, participated in the exploration of the Mammoth &

   Flint Ridge cave system; it actually has a `Colossal Cave' and a

   `Bedquilt' as in the game, and the `Y2' that also turns up is cavers'

   jargon for a map reference to a secondary entrance.


   ADVENT sources are available for FTP at


   . There is a




   Node:AFAIK, Next:[383]AFJ, Previous:[384]ADVENT, Up:[385]= A =


   AFAIK // n.


   [Usenet] Abbrev. for "As Far As I Know".



   Node:AFJ, Next:[386]AFK, Previous:[387]AFAIK, Up:[388]= A =


   AFJ // n.


   Written-only abbreviation for "April Fool's Joke". Elaborate April

   Fool's hoaxes are a long-established tradition on Usenet and Internet;

   see [389]kremvax for an example. In fact, April Fool's Day is the only

   seasonal holiday consistently marked by customary observances on

   Internet and other hacker networks.



   Node:AFK, Next:[390]AI, Previous:[391]AFJ, Up:[392]= A =




   [MUD] Abbrev. for "Away From Keyboard". Used to notify others that you

   will be momentarily unavailable online. eg. "Let's not go kill that

   frost giant yet, I need to go AFK to make a phone call". Often MUDs

   will have a command to politely inform others of your absence when

   they try to talk with you. The term is not restricted to MUDs,

   however, and has become common in many chat situations, from IRC to

   Unix talk.



   Node:AI, Next:[393]AI-complete, Previous:[394]AFK, Up:[395]= A =


   AI /A-I/ n.


   Abbreviation for `Artificial Intelligence', so common that the full

   form is almost never written or spoken among hackers.



   Node:AI-complete, Next:[396]AI koans, Previous:[397]AI, Up:[398]= A =


   AI-complete /A-I k*m-pleet'/ adj.


   [MIT, Stanford: by analogy with `NP-complete' (see [399]NP-)] Used to

   describe problems or subproblems in AI, to indicate that the solution

   presupposes a solution to the `strong AI problem' (that is, the

   synthesis of a human-level intelligence). A problem that is

   AI-complete is, in other words, just too hard.


   Examples of AI-complete problems are `The Vision Problem' (building a

   system that can see as well as a human) and `The Natural Language

   Problem' (building a system that can understand and speak a natural

   language as well as a human). These may appear to be modular, but all

   attempts so far (1999) to solve them have foundered on the amount of

   context information and `intelligence' they seem to require. See also




   Node:AI koans, Next:[401]AIDS, Previous:[402]AI-complete, Up:[403]= A



   AI koans /A-I koh'anz/ pl.n.


   A series of pastiches of Zen teaching riddles created by Danny Hillis

   at the MIT AI Lab around various major figures of the Lab's culture

   (several are included under [404]Some AI Koans in Appendix A). See

   also [405]ha ha only serious, [406]mu, and [407]hacker humor.



   Node:AIDS, Next:[408]AIDX, Previous:[409]AI koans, Up:[410]= A =


   AIDS /aydz/ n.


   Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (`A*' is a [411]glob pattern that

   matches, but is not limited to, Apple or Amiga), this condition is

   quite often the result of practicing unsafe [412]SEX. See [413]virus,

   [414]worm, [415]Trojan horse, [416]virgin.



   Node:AIDX, Next:[417]airplane rule, Previous:[418]AIDS, Up:[419]= A =


   AIDX /ayd'k*z/ n.


   Derogatory term for IBM's perverted version of Unix, AIX, especially

   for the AIX 3.? used in the IBM RS/6000 series (some hackers think it

   is funnier just to pronounce "AIX" as "aches"). A victim of the

   dreaded "hybridism" disease, this attempt to combine the two main

   currents of the Unix stream ([420]BSD and [421]USG Unix) became a

   [422]monstrosity to haunt system administrators' dreams. For example,

   if new accounts are created while many users are logged on, the load

   average jumps quickly over 20 due to silly implementation of the user

   databases. For a quite similar disease, compare [423]HP-SUX. Also,

   compare [424]Macintrash, [425]Nominal Semidestructor, [426]ScumOS,




   Node:airplane rule, Next:[428]Alderson loop, Previous:[429]AIDX,

   Up:[430]= A =


   airplane rule n.


   "Complexity increases the possibility of failure; a twin-engine

   airplane has twice as many engine problems as a single-engine

   airplane." By analogy, in both software and electronics, the rule that

   simplicity increases robustness. It is correspondingly argued that the

   right way to build reliable systems is to put all your eggs in one

   basket, after making sure that you've built a really good basket. See

   also [431]KISS Principle, [432]elegant.



   Node:Alderson loop, Next:[433]aliasing bug, Previous:[434]airplane

   rule, Up:[435]= A =


   Alderson loop n.


   [Intel] A special version of an [436]infinite loop where there is an

   exit condition available, but inaccessible in the current

   implementation of the code. Typically this is created while debugging

   user interface code. An example would be when there is a menu stating,

   "Select 1-3 or 9 to quit" and 9 is not allowed by the function that

   takes the selection from the user.


   This term received its name from a programmer who had coded a modal

   message box in MSAccess with no Ok or Cancel buttons, thereby

   disabling the entire program whenever the box came up. The message box

   had the proper code for dismissal and even was set up so that when the

   non-existent Ok button was pressed the proper code would be called.



   Node:aliasing bug, Next:[437]Alice and Bob, Previous:[438]Alderson

   loop, Up:[439]= A =


   aliasing bug n.


   A class of subtle programming errors that can arise in code that does

   dynamic allocation, esp. via malloc(3) or equivalent. If several

   pointers address (`aliases for') a given hunk of storage, it may

   happen that the storage is freed or reallocated (and thus moved)

   through one alias and then referenced through another, which may lead

   to subtle (and possibly intermittent) lossage depending on the state

   and the allocation history of the malloc [440]arena. Avoidable by use

   of allocation strategies that never alias allocated core, or by use of

   higher-level languages, such as [441]LISP, which employ a garbage

   collector (see [442]GC). Also called a [443]stale pointer bug. See

   also [444]precedence lossage, [445]smash the stack, [446]fandango on

   core, [447]memory leak, [448]memory smash, [449]overrun screw,



   Historical note: Though this term is nowadays associated with C

   programming, it was already in use in a very similar sense in the

   Algol-60 and FORTRAN communities in the 1960s.



   Node:Alice and Bob, Next:[451]all-elbows, Previous:[452]aliasing bug,

   Up:[453]= A =


   Alice and Bob n.


   The archetypal individuals used as examples in discussions of

   cryptographic protocols. Originally, theorists would say something

   like: "A communicates with someone who claims to be B, So to be sure,

   A tests that B knows a secret number K. So A sends to B a random

   number X. B then forms Y by encrypting X under key K and sends Y back

   to A" Because this sort of thing is is quite hard to follow, theorists

   stopped using the unadorned letters A and B to represent the main

   players and started calling them Alice and Bob. So now we say "Alice

   communicates with someone claiming to be Bob, and to be sure, So Alice

   tests that Bob knows a secret number K. Alice sends to Bob a random

   number X. Bob then forms Y by encrypting X under key K and sends Y

   back to Alice". A whole mythology rapidly grew up around the

   metasyntactic names; see



   In Bruce Schneier's definitive introductory text "Applied

   Cryptography" (2nd ed., 1996, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-11709-9)

   he introduces a table of dramatis personae headed by Alice and Bob.

   Others include Carol (a participant in three- and four-party

   protocols), Dave (a participant in four-party protocols), Eve (an

   eavesdropper), Mallory (a malicious active attacker), Trent (a trusted

   arbitrator), Walter (a warden), Peggy (a prover) and Victor (a

   verifier). These names for roles are either already standard or, given

   the wide popularity of the book, may be expected to quickly become so.



   Node:all-elbows, Next:[455]alpha geek, Previous:[456]Alice and Bob,

   Up:[457]= A =


   all-elbows adj.


   [MS-DOS] Of a TSR (terminate-and-stay-resident) IBM PC program, such

   as the N pop-up calendar and calculator utilities that circulate on

   [458]BBS systems: unsociable. Used to describe a program that rudely

   steals the resources that it needs without considering that other TSRs

   may also be resident. One particularly common form of rudeness is

   lock-up due to programs fighting over the keyboard interrupt. See

   [459]rude, also [460]mess-dos.



   Node:alpha geek, Next:[461]alpha particles, Previous:[462]all-elbows,

   Up:[463]= A =


   alpha geek n.


   [from animal ethologists' `alpha male'] The most technically

   accomplished or skillful person in some implied context. "Ask Larry,

   he's the alpha geek here."



   Node:alpha particles, Next:[464]alt, Previous:[465]alpha geek,

   Up:[466]= A =


   alpha particles n.


   See [467]bit rot.



   Node:alt, Next:[468]alt bit, Previous:[469]alpha particles, Up:[470]=

   A =


   alt /awlt/


   1. n. The alt shift key on an IBM PC or [471]clone keyboard; see

   [472]bucky bits, sense 2 (though typical PC usage does not simply set

   the 0200 bit). 2. n. The `option' key on a Macintosh; use of this term

   usually reveals that the speaker hacked PCs before coming to the Mac

   (see also [473]feature key, which is sometimes incorrectly called

   `alt'). 3. n.,obs. [PDP-10; often capitalized to ALT] Alternate name

   for the ASCII ESC character (ASCII 0011011), after the keycap labeling

   on some older terminals; also `altmode' (/awlt'mohd/). This character

   was almost never pronounced `escape' on an ITS system, in [474]TECO,

   or under TOPS-10 -- always alt, as in "Type alt alt to end a TECO

   command" or "alt-U onto the system" (for "log onto the [ITS] system").

   This usage probably arose because alt is more convenient to say than

   `escape', especially when followed by another alt or a character (or

   another alt and a character, for that matter). 4. The alt hierarchy on

   Usenet, the tree of newsgroups created by users without a formal vote

   and approval procedure. There is a myth, not entirely implausible,

   that alt is acronymic for "anarchists, lunatics, and terrorists"; but

   in fact it is simply short for "alternative".



   Node:alt bit, Next:[475]Aluminum Book, Previous:[476]alt, Up:[477]= A



   alt bit /awlt bit/ [from alternate] adj.


   See [478]meta bit.



   Node:Aluminum Book, Next:[479]ambimouseterous, Previous:[480]alt bit,

   Up:[481]= A =


   Aluminum Book n.


   [MIT] "Common LISP: The Language", by Guy L. Steele Jr. (Digital

   Press, first edition 1984, second edition 1990). Note that due to a

   technical screwup some printings of the second edition are actually of

   a color the author describes succinctly as "yucky green". See also

   [482]book titles.



   Node:ambimouseterous, Next:[483]Amiga, Previous:[484]Aluminum Book,

   Up:[485]= A =


   ambimouseterous /am-b*-mows'ter-us/ or /am-b*-mows'trus/ adj.


   [modeled on ambidextrous] Able to use a mouse with either hand.



   Node:Amiga, Next:[486]Amiga Persecution Complex,

   Previous:[487]ambimouseterous, Up:[488]= A =


   Amiga n


   A series of personal computer models originally sold by Commodore,

   based on 680x0 processors, custom support chips and an operating

   system that combined some of the best features of Macintosh and Unix

   with compatibility with neither.


   The Amiga was released just as the personal computing world

   standardized on IBM-PC clones. This prevented it from gaining serious

   market share, despite the fact that the first Amigas had a substantial

   technological lead on the IBM XTs of the time. Instead, it acquired a

   small but zealous population of enthusiastic hackers who dreamt of one

   day unseating the clones (see [489]Amiga Persecution Complex). The

   traits of this culture are both spoofed and illuminated in [490]The

   BLAZE Humor Viewer. The strength of the Amiga platform seeded a small

   industry of companies building software and hardware for the platform,

   especially in graphics and video applications (see [491]video



   Due to spectacular mismanagement, Commodore did hardly any R&D,

   allowing the competition to close Amiga's technological lead. After

   Commodore went bankrupt in 1994 the technology passed through several

   hands, none of whom did much with it. However, the Amiga is still

   being produced in Europe under license and has a substantial number of

   fans, which will probably extend the platform's life considerably.



   Node:Amiga Persecution Complex, Next:[492]amoeba, Previous:[493]Amiga,

   Up:[494]= A =


   Amiga Persecution Complex n.


   The disorder suffered by a particularly egregious variety of

   [495]bigot, those who believe that the marginality of their preferred

   machine is the result of some kind of industry-wide conspiracy (for

   without a conspiracy of some kind, the eminent superiority of their

   beloved shining jewel of a platform would obviously win over all,

   market pressures be damned!) Those afflicted are prone to engaging in

   [496]flame wars and calling for boycotts and mailbombings. Amiga

   Persecution Complex is by no means limited to Amiga users; NeXT,

   [497]NeWS, [498]OS/2, Macintosh, [499]LISP, and [500]GNU users are

   also common victims. [501]Linux users used to display symptoms very

   frequently before Linux started winning; some still do. See also

   [502]newbie, [503]troll, [504]holy wars, [505]weenie, [506]Get a




   Node:amoeba, Next:[507]amp off, Previous:[508]Amiga Persecution

   Complex, Up:[509]= A =


   amoeba n.


   Humorous term for the Commodore Amiga personal computer.



   Node:amp off, Next:[510]amper, Previous:[511]amoeba, Up:[512]= A =


   amp off vt.


   [Purdue] To run in [513]background. From the Unix shell `&' operator.



   Node:amper, Next:[514]Angband, Previous:[515]amp off, Up:[516]= A =


   amper n.


   Common abbreviation for the name of the ampersand (`&', ASCII 0100110)

   character. See [517]ASCII for other synonyms.



   Node:Angband, Next:[518]angle brackets, Previous:[519]amper, Up:[520]=

   A =


   Angband n. /ang'band/


   Like [521]nethack, [522]moria, and [523]rogue, one of the large freely

   distributed Dungeons-and-Dragons-like simulation games, available for

   a wide range of machines and operating systems. The name is from

   Tolkien's Pits of Angband (compare [524]elder days, [525]elvish). Has

   been described as "Moria on steroids"; but, unlike Moria, many aspects

   of the game are customizable. This leads many hackers and would-be

   hackers into fooling with these instead of doing productive work.

   There are many Angband variants, of which the most notorious is

   probably the rather whimsical Zangband. In this game, when a key that

   does not correspond to a command is pressed, the game will display

   "Type ? for help" 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, random

   error messages including "An error has occurred because an error of

   type 42 has occurred" and "Windows 95 uninstalled successfully" will

   be displayed. Zangband also allows the player to kill Santa Claus (who

   has some really good stuff, but also has a lot of friends), "Bull

   Gates", and Barney the Dinosaur (but be watchful; Barney has a nasty

   case of halitosis). There is an official angband home page at

   [526] and a zangband one at

   [527] See also [528]Random Number God.



   Node:angle brackets, Next:[529]angry fruit salad,

   Previous:[530]Angband, Up:[531]= A =


   angle brackets n.


   Either of the characters < (ASCII 0111100) and > (ASCII 0111110)

   (ASCII less-than or greater-than signs). Typographers in the [532]Real

   World use angle brackets which are either taller and slimmer (the ISO

   `Bra' and `Ket' characters), or significantly smaller (single or

   double guillemets) than the less-than and greater-than signs. See

   [533]broket, [534]ASCII.



   Node:angry fruit salad, Next:[535]annoybot, Previous:[536]angle

   brackets, Up:[537]= A =


   angry fruit salad n.


   A bad visual-interface design that uses too many colors. (This term

   derives, of course, from the bizarre day-glo colors found in canned

   fruit salad.) Too often one sees similar effects from interface

   designers using color window systems such as [538]X; there is a

   tendency to create displays that are flashy and attention-getting but

   uncomfortable for long-term use.



   Node:annoybot, Next:[539]annoyware, Previous:[540]angry fruit salad,

   Up:[541]= A =


   annoybot /*-noy-bot/ n.


   [IRC] See [542]bot.



   Node:annoyware, Next:[543]ANSI, Previous:[544]annoybot, Up:[545]= A =


   annoyware n.


   A type of [546]shareware that frequently disrupts normal program

   operation to display requests for payment to the author in return for

   the ability to disable the request messages. (Also called `nagware')

   The requests generally require user action to acknowledge the message

   before normal operation is resumed and are often tied to the most

   frequently used features of the software. See also [547]careware,

   [548]charityware, [549]crippleware, [550]freeware, [551]FRS,

   [552]guiltware, [553]postcardware, and [554]-ware; compare




   Node:ANSI, Next:[556]ANSI standard, Previous:[557]annoyware, Up:[558]=

   A =


   ANSI /an'see/


   1. n. [techspeak] The American National Standards Institute. ANSI,

   along with the International Organization for Standards (ISO),

   standardized the C programming language (see [559]K&R, [560]Classic

   C), and promulgates many other important software standards. 2. n.

   [techspeak] A terminal may be said to be `ANSI' if it meets the ANSI

   X.364 standard for terminal control. Unfortunately, this standard was

   both over-complicated and too permissive. It has been retired and

   replaced by the ECMA-48 standard, which shares both flaws. 3. n. [BBS

   jargon] The set of screen-painting codes that most MS-DOS and Amiga

   computers accept. This comes from the ANSI.SYS device driver that must

   be loaded on an MS-DOS computer to view such codes. Unfortunately,

   neither DOS ANSI nor the BBS ANSIs derived from it exactly match the

   ANSI X.364 terminal standard. For example, the ESC-[1m code turns on

   the bold highlight on large machines, but in IBM PC/MS-DOS ANSI, it

   turns on `intense' (bright) colors. Also, in BBS-land, the term `ANSI'

   is often used to imply that a particular computer uses or can emulate

   the IBM high-half character set from MS-DOS. Particular use depends on

   context. Occasionally, the vanilla ASCII character set is used with

   the color codes, but on BBSs, ANSI and `IBM characters' tend to go




   Node:ANSI standard, Next:[561]ANSI standard pizza, Previous:[562]ANSI,

   Up:[563]= A =


   ANSI standard /an'see stan'd*rd/


   The ANSI standard usage of `ANSI standard' refers to any practice

   which is typical or broadly done. It's most appropriately applied to

   things that everyone does that are not quite regulation. For example:

   ANSI standard shaking of a laser printer cartridge to get extra life

   from it, or the ANSI standard word tripling in names of usenet alt




   Node:ANSI standard pizza, Next:[564]AOL!, Previous:[565]ANSI standard,

   Up:[566]= A =


   ANSI standard pizza /an'see stan'd*rd peet'z*/


   [CMU] Pepperoni and mushroom pizza. Coined allegedly because most

   pizzas ordered by CMU hackers during some period leading up to

   mid-1990 were of that flavor. See also [567]rotary debugger; compare

   [568]ISO standard cup of tea.



   Node:AOL!, Next:[569]app, Previous:[570]ANSI standard pizza, Up:[571]=

   A =


   AOL! n.


   [Usenet] Common synonym for "Me, too!" alluding to the legendary

   propensity of America Online users to utter contentless "Me, too!"

   postings. The number of exclamation points following varies from zero

   to five or so. The pseudo-HTML


     <AOL>Me, too!</AOL>


   is also frequently seen. See also [572]September that never ended.



   Node:app, Next:[573]arena, Previous:[574]AOL!, Up:[575]= A =


   app /ap/ n.


   Short for `application program', as opposed to a systems program. Apps

   are what systems vendors are forever chasing developers to create for

   their environments so they can sell more boxes. Hackers tend not to

   think of the things they themselves run as apps; thus, in hacker

   parlance the term excludes compilers, program editors, games, and

   messaging systems, though a user would consider all those to be apps.

   (Broadly, an app is often a self-contained environment for performing

   some well-defined task such as `word processing'; hackers tend to

   prefer more general-purpose tools.) See [576]killer app; oppose

   [577]tool, [578]operating system.



   Node:arena, Next:[579]arg, Previous:[580]app, Up:[581]= A =


   arena n.


   [common; Unix] The area of memory attached to a process by brk(2) and

   sbrk(2) and used by malloc(3) as dynamic storage. So named from a

   malloc: corrupt arena message emitted when some early versions

   detected an impossible value in the free block list. See [582]overrun

   screw, [583]aliasing bug, [584]memory leak, [585]memory smash,

   [586]smash the stack.



   Node:arg, Next:[587]ARMM, Previous:[588]arena, Up:[589]= A =


   arg /arg/ n.


   Abbreviation for `argument' (to a function), used so often as to have

   become a new word (like `piano' from `pianoforte'). "The sine function

   takes 1 arg, but the arc-tangent function can take either 1 or 2

   args." Compare [590]param, [591]parm, [592]var.



   Node:ARMM, Next:[593]armor-plated, Previous:[594]arg, Up:[595]= A =


   ARMM n.


   [acronym, `Automated Retroactive Minimal Moderation'] A Usenet

   [596]cancelbot created by Dick Depew of Munroe Falls, Ohio. ARMM was

   intended to automatically cancel posts from anonymous-posting sites.

   Unfortunately, the robot's recognizer for anonymous postings triggered

   on its own automatically-generated control messages! Transformed by

   this stroke of programming ineptitude into a monster of

   Frankensteinian proportions, it broke loose on the night of March 31,

   1993 and proceeded to [597]spam news.admin.policy with a recursive

   explosion of over 200 messages.


   ARMM's bug produced a recursive [598]cascade of messages each of which

   mechanically added text to the ID and Subject and some other headers

   of its parent. This produced a flood of messages in which each header

   took up several screens and each message ID and subject line got

   longer and longer and longer.


   Reactions varied from amusement to outrage. The pathological messages

   crashed at least one mail system, and upset people paying line charges

   for their Usenet feeds. One poster described the ARMM debacle as

   "instant Usenet history" (also establishing the term [599]despew), and

   it has since been widely cited as a cautionary example of the havoc

   the combination of good intentions and incompetence can wreak on a

   network. Compare [600]Great Worm; [601]sorcerer's apprentice mode. See

   also [602]software laser, [603]network meltdown.



   Node:armor-plated, Next:[604]asbestos, Previous:[605]ARMM, Up:[606]= A



   armor-plated n.


   Syn. for [607]bulletproof.



   Node:asbestos, Next:[608]asbestos cork award,

   Previous:[609]armor-plated, Up:[610]= A =


   asbestos adj.


   [common] Used as a modifier to anything intended to protect one from

   [611]flames; also in other highly [612]flame-suggestive usages. See,

   for example, [613]asbestos longjohns and [614]asbestos cork award.



   Node:asbestos cork award, Next:[615]asbestos longjohns,

   Previous:[616]asbestos, Up:[617]= A =


   asbestos cork award n.


   Once, long ago at MIT, there was a [618]flamer so consistently

   obnoxious that another hacker designed, had made, and distributed

   posters announcing that said flamer had been nominated for the

   `asbestos cork award'. (Any reader in doubt as to the intended

   application of the cork should consult the etymology under

   [619]flame.) Since then, it is agreed that only a select few have

   risen to the heights of bombast required to earn this dubious dignity

   -- but there is no agreement on which few.



   Node:asbestos longjohns, Next:[620]ASCII, Previous:[621]asbestos cork

   award, Up:[622]= A =


   asbestos longjohns n.


   Notional garments donned by [623]Usenet posters just before emitting a

   remark they expect will elicit [624]flamage. This is the most common

   of the [625]asbestos coinages. Also `asbestos underwear', `asbestos

   overcoat', etc.



   Node:ASCII, Next:[626]ASCII art, Previous:[627]asbestos longjohns,

   Up:[628]= A =


   ASCII /as'kee/ n.


   [originally an acronym (American Standard Code for Information

   Interchange) but now merely conventional] The predominant character

   set encoding of present-day computers. The standard version uses 7

   bits for each character, whereas most earlier codes (including early

   drafts of of ASCII prior to June 1961) used fewer. This change allowed

   the inclusion of lowercase letters -- a major [629]win -- but it did

   not provide for accented letters or any other letterforms not used in

   English (such as the German sharp-S or the ae-ligature which is a

   letter in, for example, Norwegian). It could be worse, though. It

   could be much worse. See [630]EBCDIC to understand how. A history of

   ASCII and its ancestors is at



   Computers are much pickier and less flexible about spelling than

   humans; thus, hackers need to be very precise when talking about

   characters, and have developed a considerable amount of verbal

   shorthand for them. Every character has one or more names -- some

   formal, some concise, some silly. Common jargon names for ASCII

   characters are collected here. See also individual entries for

   [632]bang, [633]excl, [634]open, [635]ques, [636]semi, [637]shriek,

   [638]splat, [639]twiddle, and [640]Yu-Shiang Whole Fish.


   This list derives from revision 2.3 of the Usenet ASCII pronunciation

   guide. Single characters are listed in ASCII order; character pairs

   are sorted in by first member. For each character, common names are

   given in rough order of popularity, followed by names that are

   reported but rarely seen; official ANSI/CCITT names are surrounded by

   brokets: <>. Square brackets mark the particularly silly names

   introduced by [641]INTERCAL. The abbreviations "l/r" and "o/c" stand

   for left/right and "open/close" respectively. Ordinary parentheticals

   provide some usage information.



          Common: [642]bang; pling; excl; shriek; ball-bat; <exclamation

          mark>. Rare: factorial; exclam; smash; cuss; boing; yell; wow;

          hey; wham; eureka; [spark-spot]; soldier, control.



          Common: double quote; quote. Rare: literal mark; double-glitch;

          <quotation marks>; <dieresis>; dirk; [rabbit-ears]; double




          Common: number sign; pound; pound sign; hash; sharp;

          [643]crunch; hex; [mesh]. Rare: grid; crosshatch; octothorpe;

          flash; <square>, pig-pen; tictactoe; scratchmark; thud; thump;




          Common: dollar; <dollar sign>. Rare: currency symbol; buck;

          cash; string (from BASIC); escape (when used as the echo of

          ASCII ESC); ding; cache; [big money].



          Common: percent; <percent sign>; mod; grapes. Rare:




          Common: <ampersand>; amper; and, and sign. Rare: address (from

          C); reference (from C++); andpersand; bitand; background (from

          sh(1)); pretzel; amp. [INTERCAL called this `ampersand'; what

          could be sillier?]



          Common: single quote; quote; <apostrophe>. Rare: prime; glitch;

          tick; irk; pop; [spark]; <closing single quotation mark>;

          <acute accent>.


   ( )

          Common: l/r paren; l/r parenthesis; left/right; open/close;

          paren/thesis; o/c paren; o/c parenthesis; l/r parenthesis; l/r

          banana. Rare: so/already; lparen/rparen; <opening/closing

          parenthesis>; o/c round bracket, l/r round bracket, [wax/wane];

          parenthisey/unparenthisey; l/r ear.



          Common: star; [[645]splat]; <asterisk>. Rare: wildcard; gear;

          dingle; mult; spider; aster; times; twinkle; glob (see

          [646]glob); [647]Nathan Hale.



          Common: <plus>; add. Rare: cross; [intersection].



          Common: <comma>. Rare: <cedilla>; [tail].



          Common: dash; <hyphen>; <minus>. Rare: [worm]; option; dak;




          Common: dot; point; <period>; <decimal point>. Rare: radix

          point; full stop; [spot].



          Common: slash; stroke; <slant>; forward slash. Rare: diagonal;

          solidus; over; slak; virgule; [slat].



          Common: <colon>. Rare: dots; [two-spot].



          Common: <semicolon>; semi. Rare: weenie; [hybrid], pit-thwong.


   < >

          Common: <less/greater than>; bra/ket; l/r angle; l/r angle

          bracket; l/r broket. Rare: from/{into, towards}; read

          from/write to; suck/blow; comes-from/gozinta; in/out;

          crunch/zap (all from UNIX); tic/tac; [angle/right angle].



          Common: <equals>; gets; takes. Rare: quadrathorpe; [half-mesh].



          Common: query; <question mark>; [648]ques. Rare: whatmark;

          [what]; wildchar; huh; hook; buttonhook; hunchback.



          Common: at sign; at; strudel. Rare: each; vortex; whorl;

          [whirlpool]; cyclone; snail; ape; cat; rose; cabbage;

          <commercial at>.



          Rare: [book].


   [ ]

          Common: l/r square bracket; l/r bracket; <opening/closing

          bracket>; bracket/unbracket. Rare: square/unsquare; [U turn/U

          turn back].



          Common: backslash, hack, whack; escape (from C/UNIX); reverse

          slash; slosh; backslant; backwhack. Rare: bash; <reverse

          slant>; reversed virgule; [backslat].



          Common: hat; control; uparrow; caret; <circumflex>. Rare: xor

          sign, chevron; [shark (or shark-fin)]; to the (`to the power

          of'); fang; pointer (in Pascal).



          Common: <underline>; underscore; underbar; under. Rare: score;

          backarrow; skid; [flatworm].



          Common: backquote; left quote; left single quote; open quote;

          <grave accent>; grave. Rare: backprime; [backspark];

          unapostrophe; birk; blugle; back tick; back glitch; push;

          <opening single quotation mark>; quasiquote.


   { }

          Common: o/c brace; l/r brace; l/r squiggly; l/r squiggly

          bracket/brace; l/r curly bracket/brace; <opening/closing

          brace>. Rare: brace/unbrace; curly/uncurly; leftit/rytit; l/r

          squirrelly; [embrace/bracelet].



          Common: bar; or; or-bar; v-bar; pipe; vertical bar. Rare:

          <vertical line>; gozinta; thru; pipesinta (last three from

          UNIX); [spike].



          Common: <tilde>; squiggle; [649]twiddle; not. Rare: approx;

          wiggle; swung dash; enyay; [sqiggle (sic)].


   The pronunciation of # as `pound' is common in the U.S. but a bad

   idea; [650]Commonwealth Hackish has its own, rather more apposite use

   of `pound sign' (confusingly, on British keyboards the pound graphic

   happens to replace #; thus Britishers sometimes call # on a U.S.-ASCII

   keyboard `pound', compounding the American error). The U.S. usage

   derives from an old-fashioned commercial practice of using a # suffix

   to tag pound weights on bills of lading. The character is usually

   pronounced `hash' outside the U.S. There are more culture wars over

   the correct pronunciation of this character than any other, which has

   led to the [651]ha ha only serious suggestion that it be pronounced

   `shibboleth' (see Judges 12:6 in an Old Testament or Tanakh).


   The `uparrow' name for circumflex and `leftarrow' name for underline

   are historical relics from archaic ASCII (the 1963 version), which had

   these graphics in those character positions rather than the modern

   punctuation characters.


   The `swung dash' or `approximation' sign is not quite the same as

   tilde in typeset material but the ASCII tilde serves for both (compare

   [652]angle brackets).


   Some other common usages cause odd overlaps. The #, $, >, and &

   characters, for example, are all pronounced "hex" in different

   communities because various assemblers use them as a prefix tag for

   hexadecimal constants (in particular, # in many assembler-programming

   cultures, $ in the 6502 world, > at Texas Instruments, and & on the

   BBC Micro, Sinclair, and some Z80 machines). See also [653]splat.


   The inability of ASCII text to correctly represent any of the world's

   other major languages makes the designers' choice of 7 bits look more

   and more like a serious [654]misfeature as the use of international

   networks continues to increase (see [655]software rot). Hardware and

   software from the U.S. still tends to embody the assumption that ASCII

   is the universal character set and that characters have 7 bits; this

   is a major irritant to people who want to use a character set suited

   to their own languages. Perversely, though, efforts to solve this

   problem by proliferating `national' character sets produce an

   evolutionary pressure to use a smaller subset common to all those in




   Node:ASCII art, Next:[656]ASCIIbetical order, Previous:[657]ASCII,

   Up:[658]= A =


   ASCII art n.


   The fine art of drawing diagrams using the ASCII character set (mainly

   |, -, /, \, and +). Also known as `character graphics' or `ASCII

   graphics'; see also [659]boxology. Here is a serious example:

    o----)||(--+--|<----+   +---------o + D O

      L  )||(  |        |   |             C U

    A I  )||(  +-->|-+  |   +-\/\/-+--o -   T

    C N  )||(        |  |   |      |        P

      E  )||(  +-->|-+--)---+--|(--+-o      U

         )||(  |        |          | GND    T


    A power supply consisting of a full wave rectifier circuit

    feeding a capacitor input filter circuit

   And here are some very silly examples:

  |\/\/\/|     ____/|              ___    |\_/|    ___

  |      |     \ o.O|   ACK!      /   \_  |` '|  _/   \

  |      |      =(_)=  THPHTH!   /      \/     \/      \

  | (o)(o)        U             /                       \

  C      _)  (__)                \/\/\/\  _____  /\/\/\/

  | ,___|    (oo)                       \/     \/

  |   /       \/-------\         U                  (__)

 /____\        ||     | \    /---V  `v'-            oo )

/      \       ||---W||  *  * |--|   || |`.         |_/\



    ====___\   /.. ..\   /___====      Klingons rule OK!

  //        ---\__O__/---        \\

  \_\                           /_/

   There is an important subgenre of ASCII art that puns on the standard

   character names in the fashion of a rebus.


|      ^^^^^^^^^^^^                                      |

| ^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^                       |

|                 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^ |

|        ^^^^^^^         B       ^^^^^^^^^               |

|  ^^^^^^^^^          ^^^            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^      |


             " A Bee in the Carrot Patch "

   Within humorous ASCII art, there is for some reason an entire

   flourishing subgenre of pictures of silly cows. Four of these are

   reproduced in the examples above, here are three more:

         (__)              (__)              (__)

         (\/)              ($$)              (**)

  /-------\/        /-------\/        /-------\/

 / | 666 ||        / |=====||        / |     ||

*  ||----||       *  ||----||       *  ||----||

   ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~          ~~    ~~

Satanic cow    This cow is a Yuppie   Cow in love

   Finally, here's a magnificent example of ASCII art depicting an

   Edwardian train station in Dunedin, New Zealand:





                                 / I \

                              JL/  |  \JL

   .-.                    i   ()   |   ()   i                    .-.

   |_|     .^.           /_\  LJ=======LJ  /_\           .^.     |_|

._/___\._./___\_._._._._.L_J_/.-.     .-.\_L_J._._._._._/___\._./___\._._._

       ., |-,-| .,       L_J  |_| [I] |_|  L_J       ., |-,-| .,        .,

       JL |-O-| JL       L_J%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%L_J       JL |-O-| JL        JL



 _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_ [_] []_/_L_J_\_[] [_] _/\_  ||\\_I_//||  _/\_  ||\

 |__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|_|_|   _L_L_J_J_   |_|_|__|  ||=/_|_\=||  |__|  ||-

 |__|  |||__|__|||  |__[___]__--__===__--__[___]__|  |||__|__|||  |__|  |||


 \_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_[_]\II/[]\_\I/_/[]\II/[_]\_I_/ [_]\_I_/[_] \_I_/ [_]

./   \.L_J/   \L_J./   L_JI  I[]/     \[]I  IL_J    \.L_J/   \L_J./   \.L_J

|     |L_J|   |L_J|    L_J|  |[]|     |[]|  |L_J     |L_J|   |L_J|     |L_J

|_____JL_JL___JL_JL____|-||  |[]|     |[]|  ||-|_____JL_JL___JL_JL_____JL_J

   There is a newsgroup, alt.ascii-art, devoted to this genre; however,

   see also [660]warlording.



   Node:ASCIIbetical order, Next:[661]astroturfing, Previous:[662]ASCII

   art, Up:[663]= A =


   ASCIIbetical order /as'kee-be'-t*-kl or'dr/ adj.,n.


   Used to indicate that data is sorted in ASCII collated order rather

   than alphabetical order. This lexicon is sorted in something close to

   ASCIIbetical order, but with case ignored and entries beginning with

   non-alphabetic characters moved to the end. "At my video store, they

   used their computer to sort the videos into ASCIIbetical order, so I

   couldn't find `"Crocodile" Dundee' until I thought to look before

   `2001' and `48 HRS.'!"



   Node:astroturfing, Next:[664]atomic, Previous:[665]ASCIIbetical order,

   Up:[666]= A =


   astroturfing n.


   The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement,

   through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant `concerned

   citizens', paid opinion pieces, and the formation of grass-roots

   lobbying groups that are actually funded by a PR group (astroturf is

   fake grass; hence the term). This term became common among hackers

   after it came to light in early 1998 that Microsoft had attempted to

   use such tactics to forestall the U.S. Department of Justice's

   antitrust action against the company.


   This backfired horribly, angering a number of state attorneys-general

   enough to induce them to go public with plans to join the Federal

   suit. It also set anybody defending Microsoft on the net for the

   accusation "You're just astroturfing!".



   Node:atomic, Next:[667]attoparsec, Previous:[668]astroturfing,

   Up:[669]= A =


   atomic adj.


   [from Gk. `atomos', indivisible] 1. Indivisible; cannot be split up.

   For example, an instruction may be said to do several things

   `atomically', i.e., all the things are done immediately, and there is

   no chance of the instruction being half-completed or of another being

   interspersed. Used esp. to convey that an operation cannot be screwed

   up by interrupts. "This routine locks the file and increments the

   file's semaphore atomically." 2. [primarily techspeak] Guaranteed to

   complete successfully or not at all, usu. refers to database

   transactions. If an error prevents a partially-performed transaction

   from proceeding to completion, it must be "backed out," as the

   database must not be left in an inconsistent state.


   Computer usage, in either of the above senses, has none of the

   connotations that `atomic' has in mainstream English (i.e. of

   particles of matter, nuclear explosions etc.).



   Node:attoparsec, Next:[670]AUP, Previous:[671]atomic, Up:[672]= A =


   attoparsec n.


   About an inch. `atto-' is the standard SI prefix for multiplication by

   10^(-18). A parsec (parallax-second) is 3.26 light-years; an

   attoparsec is thus 3.26 * 10^(-18) light years, or about 3.1 cm (thus,

   1 attoparsec/[673]microfortnight equals about 1 inch/sec). This unit

   is reported to be in use (though probably not very seriously) among

   hackers in the U.K. See [674]micro-.



   Node:AUP, Next:[675]autobogotiphobia, Previous:[676]attoparsec,

   Up:[677]= A =


   AUP /A-U-P/


   Abbreviation, "Acceptable Use Policy". The policy of a given ISP which

   sets out what the ISP considers to be (un)acceptable uses of its

   Internet resources.



   Node:autobogotiphobia, Next:[678]automagically, Previous:[679]AUP,

   Up:[680]= A =


   autobogotiphobia /aw'toh-boh-got`*-foh'bee-*/


   n. See [681]bogotify.



   Node:automagically, Next:[682]avatar, Previous:[683]autobogotiphobia,

   Up:[684]= A =


   automagically /aw-toh-maj'i-klee/ adv.


   Automatically, but in a way that, for some reason (typically because

   it is too complicated, or too ugly, or perhaps even too trivial), the

   speaker doesn't feel like explaining to you. See [685]magic. "The

   C-INTERCAL compiler generates C, then automagically invokes cc(1) to

   produce an executable."


   This term is quite old, going back at least to the mid-70s in jargon

   and probably much earlier. The word `automagic' occurred in

   advertising (for a shirt-ironing gadget) as far back as the late




   Node:avatar, Next:[686]awk, Previous:[687]automagically, Up:[688]= A =


   avatar n. Syn.


   [in Hindu mythology, the incarnation of a god] 1. Among people working

   on virtual reality and [689]cyberspace interfaces, an avatar is an

   icon or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality. The term

   is sometimes used on [690]MUDs. 2. [CMU, Tektronix] [691]root,

   [692]superuser. There are quite a few Unix machines on which the name

   of the superuser account is `avatar' rather than `root'. This quirk

   was originated by a CMU hacker who found the terms `root' and

   `superuser' unimaginative, and thought `avatar' might better impress

   people with the responsibility they were accepting.



   Node:awk, Next:[693]B5, Previous:[694]avatar, Up:[695]= A =


   awk /awk/


   1. n. [Unix techspeak] An interpreted language for massaging text data

   developed by Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan (the

   name derives from their initials). It is characterized by C-like

   syntax, a declaration-free approach to variable typing and

   declarations, associative arrays, and field-oriented text processing.

   See also [696]Perl. 2. n. Editing term for an expression awkward to

   manipulate through normal [697]regexp facilities (for example, one

   containing a [698]newline). 3. vt. To process data using awk(1).



   Node:= B =, Next:[699]= C =, Previous:[700]= A =, Up:[701]The Jargon



= B =

     * [702]B5:

     * [703]back door:

     * [704]backbone cabal:

     * [705]backbone site:

     * [706]backgammon:

     * [707]background:

     * [708]backreference:

     * [709]backronym:

     * [710]backspace and overstrike:

     * [711]backward combatability:

     * [712]BAD:

     * [713]Bad and Wrong:

     * [714]Bad Thing:

     * [715]bag on the side:

     * [716]bagbiter:

     * [717]bagbiting:

     * [718]baggy pantsing:

     * [719]balloonian variable:

     * [720]bamf:

     * [721]banana label:

     * [722]banana problem:

     * [723]banner ad:

     * [724]banner site:

     * [725]barn:

     * [726]batbelt:

     * [727]Befunge:

     * [728]BI:

     * [729]binary four:

     * [730]bandwidth:

     * [731]bang:

     * [732]bang on:

     * [733]bang path:

     * [734]banner:

     * [735]bar:

     * [736]bare metal:

     * [737]barf:

     * [738]barfmail:

     * [739]barfulation:

     * [740]barfulous:

     * [741]barney:

     * [742]baroque:

     * [743]BASIC:

     * [744]batch:

     * [745]bathtub curve:

     * [746]baud:

     * [747]baud barf:

     * [748]baz:

     * [749]bazaar:

     * [750]bboard:

     * [751]BBS:

     * [752]BCPL:

     * [753]beam:

     * [754]beanie key:

     * [755]beep:

     * [756]beige toaster:

     * [757]bells and whistles:

     * [758]bells whistles and gongs:

     * [759]benchmark:

     * [760]Berkeley Quality Software:

     * [761]berklix:

     * [762]Berzerkeley:

     * [763]beta:

     * [764]BFI:

     * [765]bible:

     * [766]BiCapitalization:

     * [767]B1FF:

     * [768]biff:

     * [769]Big Gray Wall:

     * [770]big iron:

     * [771]Big Red Switch:

     * [772]Big Room:

     * [773]big win:

     * [774]big-endian:

     * [775]bignum:

     * [776]bigot:

     * [777]bit:

     * [778]bit bang:

     * [779]bit bashing:

     * [780]bit bucket:

     * [781]bit decay:

     * [782]bit rot:

     * [783]bit twiddling:

     * [784]bit-paired keyboard:

     * [785]bitblt:

     * [786]BITNET:

     * [787]bits:

     * [788]bitty box:

     * [789]bixen:

     * [790]bixie:

     * [791]black art:

     * [792]black hole:

     * [793]black magic:

     * [794]Black Screen of Death:

     * [795]Black Thursday:

     * [796]blammo:

     * [797]blargh:

     * [798]blast:

     * [799]blat:

     * [800]bletch:

     * [801]bletcherous:

     * [802]blink:

     * [803]blinkenlights:

     * [804]blit:

     * [805]blitter:

     * [806]blivet:

     * [807]bloatware:

     * [808]BLOB:

     * [809]block:

     * [810]block transfer computations:

     * [811]Bloggs Family:

     * [812]blow an EPROM:

     * [813]blow away:

     * [814]blow out:

     * [815]blow past:

     * [816]blow up:

     * [817]BLT:

     * [818]Blue Book:

     * [819]blue box:

     * [820]Blue Glue:

     * [821]blue goo:

     * [822]Blue Screen of Death:

     * [823]blue wire:

     * [824]blurgle:

     * [825]BNF:

     * [826]boa:

     * [827]board:

     * [828]boat anchor:

     * [829]bob:

     * [830]bodysurf code:

     * [831]BOF:

     * [832]BOFH:

     * [833]bogo-sort:

     * [834]bogometer:

     * [835]BogoMIPS:

     * [836]bogon:

     * [837]bogon filter:

     * [838]bogon flux:

     * [839]bogosity:

     * [840]bogotify:

     * [841]bogue out:

     * [842]bogus:

     * [843]Bohr bug:

     * [844]boink:

     * [845]bomb:

     * [846]bondage-and-discipline language:

     * [847]bonk/oif:

     * [848]book titles:

     * [849]boot:

     * [850]Borg:

     * [851]borken:

     * [852]bot:

     * [853]bot spot:

     * [854]bottom feeder:

     * [855]bottom-up implementation:

     * [856]bounce:

     * [857]bounce message:

     * [858]boustrophedon:

     * [859]box:

     * [860]boxed comments:

     * [861]boxen:

     * [862]boxology:

     * [863]bozotic:

     * [864]BQS:

     * [865]brain dump:

     * [866]brain fart:

     * [867]brain-damaged:

     * [868]brain-dead:

     * [869]braino:

     * [870]branch to Fishkill:

     * [871]bread crumbs:

     * [872]break:

     * [873]break-even point:

     * [874]breath-of-life packet:

     * [875]breedle:

     * [876]Breidbart Index:

     * [877]bring X to its knees:

     * [878]brittle:

     * [879]broadcast storm:

     * [880]brochureware:

     * [881]broken:

     * [882]broken arrow:

     * [883]BrokenWindows:

     * [884]broket:

     * [885]Brooks's Law:

     * [886]brown-paper-bag bug:

     * [887]browser:

     * [888]BRS:

     * [889]brute force:

     * [890]brute force and ignorance:

     * [891]BSD:

     * [892]BSOD:

     * [893]BUAF:

     * [894]BUAG:

     * [895]bubble sort:

     * [896]bucky bits:

     * [897]buffer chuck:

     * [898]buffer overflow:

     * [899]bug:

     * [900]bug-compatible:

     * [901]bug-for-bug compatible:

     * [902]bug-of-the-month club:

     * [903]buglix:

     * [904]bulletproof:

     * [905]bullschildt:

     * [906]bum:

     * [907]bump:

     * [908]burble:

     * [909]buried treasure:

     * [910]burn-in period:

     * [911]burst page:

     * [912]busy-wait:

     * [913]buzz:

     * [914]BWQ:

     * [915]by hand:

     * [916]byte:

     * [917]byte sex:

     * [918]bytesexual:

     * [919]Bzzzt! Wrong.:



   Node:B5, Next:[920]back door, Previous:[921]awk, Up:[922]= B =


   B5 //


   [common] Abbreviation for "Babylon 5", a science-fiction TV series as

   revered among hackers as was the original Star Trek.



   Node:back door, Next:[923]backbone cabal, Previous:[924]B5, Up:[925]=

   B =


   back door n.


   [common] A hole in the security of a system deliberately left in place

   by designers or maintainers. The motivation for such holes is not

   always sinister; some operating systems, for example, come out of the

   box with privileged accounts intended for use by field service

   technicians or the vendor's maintenance programmers. Syn. [926]trap

   door; may also be called a `wormhole'. See also [927]iron box,

   [928]cracker, [929]worm, [930]logic bomb.


   Historically, back doors have often lurked in systems longer than

   anyone expected or planned, and a few have become widely known. Ken

   Thompson's 1983 Turing Award lecture to the ACM admitted the existence

   of a back door in early Unix versions that may have qualified as the

   most fiendishly clever security hack of all time. In this scheme, the

   C compiler contained code that would recognize when the `login'

   command was being recompiled and insert some code recognizing a

   password chosen by Thompson, giving him entry to the system whether or

   not an account had been created for him.


   Normally such a back door could be removed by removing it from the

   source code for the compiler and recompiling the compiler. But to

   recompile the compiler, you have to use the compiler -- so Thompson

   also arranged that the compiler would recognize when it was compiling

   a version of itself, and insert into the recompiled compiler the code

   to insert into the recompiled `login' the code to allow Thompson entry

   -- and, of course, the code to recognize itself and do the whole thing

   again the next time around! And having done this once, he was then

   able to recompile the compiler from the original sources; the hack

   perpetuated itself invisibly, leaving the back door in place and

   active but with no trace in the sources.


   The talk that suggested this truly moby hack was published as

   "Reflections on Trusting Trust", "Communications of the ACM 27", 8

   (August 1984), pp. 761-763 (text available at

   [931] Ken Thompson has since confirmed

   that this hack was implemented and that the Trojan Horse code did

   appear in the login binary of a Unix Support group machine. Ken says

   the crocked compiler was never distributed. Your editor has heard two

   separate reports that suggest that the crocked login did make it out

   of Bell Labs, notably to BBN, and that it enabled at least one

   late-night login across the network by someone using the login name




   Node:backbone cabal, Next:[932]backbone site, Previous:[933]back door,

   Up:[934]= B =


   backbone cabal n.


   A group of large-site administrators who pushed through the [935]Great

   Renaming and reined in the chaos of [936]Usenet during most of the

   1980s. During most of its lifetime, the Cabal (as it was sometimes

   capitalized) steadfastly denied its own existence; it was almost

   obligatory for anyone privy to their secrets to respond "There is no

   Cabal" whenever the existence or activities of the group were

   speculated on in public.


   The result of this policy was an attractive aura of mystery. Even a

   decade after the cabal [937]mailing list disbanded in late 1988

   following a bitter internal catfight, many people believed (or claimed

   to believe) that it had not actually disbanded but only gone deeper

   underground with its power intact.


   This belief became a model for various paranoid theories about various

   Cabals with dark nefarious objectives beginning with taking over the

   Usenet or Internet. These paranoias were later satirized in ways that

   took on a life of their own. See [938]Eric Conspiracy for one example.


   See [939]NANA for the subsequent history of "the Cabal".



   Node:backbone site, Next:[940]backgammon, Previous:[941]backbone

   cabal, Up:[942]= B =


   backbone site n.,obs.


   Formerly, a key Usenet and email site, one that processes a large

   amount of third-party traffic, especially if it is the home site of

   any of the regional coordinators for the Usenet maps. Notable backbone

   sites as of early 1993, when this sense of the term was beginning to

   pass out of general use due to wide availability of cheap Internet

   connections, included uunet and the mail machines at Rutgers

   University, UC Berkeley, [943]DEC's Western Research Laboratories,

   Ohio State University, and the University of Texas. Compare [944]rib

   site, [945]leaf site.


   [1996 update: This term is seldom heard any more. The UUCP network

   world that gave it meaning has nearly disappeared; everyone is on the

   Internet now and network traffic is distributed in very different

   patterns. Today one might see references to a `backbone router'

   instead --ESR]



   Node:backgammon, Next:[946]background, Previous:[947]backbone site,

   Up:[948]= B =




   See [949]bignum (sense 3), [950]moby (sense 4), and [951]pseudoprime.



   Node:background, Next:[952]backreference, Previous:[953]backgammon,

   Up:[954]= B =


   background n.,adj.,vt.


   [common] To do a task `in background' is to do it whenever

   [955]foreground matters are not claiming your undivided attention, and

   `to background' something means to relegate it to a lower priority.

   "For now, we'll just print a list of nodes and links; I'm working on

   the graph-printing problem in background." Note that this implies

   ongoing activity but at a reduced level or in spare time, in contrast

   to mainstream `back burner' (which connotes benign neglect until some

   future resumption of activity). Some people prefer to use the term for

   processing that they have queued up for their unconscious minds (a

   tack that one can often fruitfully take upon encountering an obstacle

   in creative work). Compare [956]amp off, [957]slopsucker.


   Technically, a task running in background is detached from the

   terminal where it was started (and often running at a lower priority);

   oppose [958]foreground. Nowadays this term is primarily associated

   with [959]Unix, but it appears to have been first used in this sense

   on OS/360.



   Node:backreference, Next:[960]backronym, Previous:[961]background,

   Up:[962]= B =


   backreference n.


   1. In a regular expression or pattern match, the text which was

   matched within grouping parentheses parentheses. 2. The part of the

   pattern which refers back to the matched text. 3. By extension,

   anything which refers back to something which has been seen or

   discussed before. "When you said `she' just now, who were you




   Node:backronym, Next:[963]backspace and overstrike,

   Previous:[964]backreference, Up:[965]= B =


   backronym n.


   [portmanteau of back + acronym] A word interpreted as an acronym that

   was not originally so intended. This is a special case of what

   linguists call `back formation'. Examples are given under [966]BASIC,

   [967]recursive acronym (Cygnus), [968]Acme, and [969]mung. Discovering

   backronyms is a common form of wordplay among hackers. Compare




   Node:backspace and overstrike, Next:[971]backward combatability,

   Previous:[972]backronym, Up:[973]= B =


   backspace and overstrike interj.


   [rare] Whoa! Back up. Used to suggest that someone just said or did

   something wrong. Once common among APL programmers; may now be




   Node:backward combatability, Next:[974]BAD, Previous:[975]backspace

   and overstrike, Up:[976]= B =


   backward combatability /bak'w*rd k*m-bat'*-bil'*-tee/ n.


   [CMU, Tektronix: from `backward compatibility'] A property of hardware

   or software revisions in which previous protocols, formats, layouts,

   etc. are irrevocably discarded in favor of `new and improved'

   protocols, formats, and layouts, leaving the previous ones not merely

   deprecated but actively defeated. (Too often, the old and new versions

   cannot definitively be distinguished, such that lingering instances of

   the previous ones yield crashes or other infelicitous effects, as

   opposed to a simple "version mismatch" message.) A backwards

   compatible change, on the other hand, allows old versions to coexist

   without crashes or error messages, but too many major changes

   incorporating elaborate backwards compatibility processing can lead to

   extreme [977]software bloat. See also [978]flag day.



   Node:BAD, Next:[979]Bad and Wrong, Previous:[980]backward

   combatability, Up:[981]= B =


   BAD /B-A-D/ adj.


   [IBM: acronym, `Broken As Designed'] Said of a program that is

   [982]bogus because of bad design and misfeatures rather than because

   of bugginess. See [983]working as designed.



   Node:Bad and Wrong, Next:[984]Bad Thing, Previous:[985]BAD, Up:[986]=

   B =


   Bad and Wrong adj.


   [Durham, UK] Said of something that is both badly designed and wrongly

   executed. This common term is the prototype of, and is used by

   contrast with, three less common terms - Bad and Right (a kludge,

   something ugly but functional); Good and Wrong (an overblown GUI or

   other attractive nuisance); and (rare praise) Good and Right. These

   terms entered common use at Durham c.1994 and may have been imported

   from elsewhere; they are also in use at Oxford, and the emphatic form

   "Evil, Bad and Wrong" (abbreviated EBW) is reported fromm there. There

   are standard abbreviations: they start with B&R, a typo for "Bad and

   Wrong". Consequently, B&W is actually "Bad and Right", G&R = "Good and

   Wrong", and G&W = "Good and Right". Compare [987]evil and rude,

   [988]Good Thing, [989]Bad Thing.



   Node:Bad Thing, Next:[990]bag on the side, Previous:[991]Bad and

   Wrong, Up:[992]= B =


   Bad Thing n.


   [very common; from the 1930 Sellar & Yeatman parody "1066 And All

   That"] Something that can't possibly result in improvement of the

   subject. This term is always capitalized, as in "Replacing all of the

   9600-baud modems with bicycle couriers would be a Bad Thing". Oppose

   [993]Good Thing. British correspondents confirm that [994]Bad Thing

   and [995]Good Thing (and prob. therefore [996]Right Thing and

   [997]Wrong Thing) come from the book referenced in the etymology,

   which discusses rulers who were Good Kings but Bad Things. This has

   apparently created a mainstream idiom on the British side of the pond.

   It is very common among American hackers, but not in mainstream usage

   here. Compare [998]Bad and Wrong.



   Node:bag on the side, Next:[999]bagbiter, Previous:[1000]Bad Thing,

   Up:[1001]= B =


   bag on the side n.


   [prob. originally related to a colostomy bag] An extension to an

   established hack that is supposed to add some functionality to the

   original. Usually derogatory, implying that the original was being

   overextended and should have been thrown away, and the new product is

   ugly, inelegant, or bloated. Also v. phrase, `to hang a bag on the

   side [of]'. "C++? That's just a bag on the side of C ...." "They want

   me to hang a bag on the side of the accounting system."



   Node:bagbiter, Next:[1002]bagbiting, Previous:[1003]bag on the side,

   Up:[1004]= B =


   bagbiter /bag'bi:t-*r/ n.


   1. Something, such as a program or a computer, that fails to work, or

   works in a remarkably clumsy manner. "This text editor won't let me

   make a file with a line longer than 80 characters! What a bagbiter!"

   2. A person who has caused you some trouble, inadvertently or

   otherwise, typically by failing to program the computer properly.

   Synonyms: [1005]loser, [1006]cretin, [1007]chomper. 3. `bite the bag'

   vi. To fail in some manner. "The computer keeps crashing every five

   minutes." "Yes, the disk controller is really biting the bag."


   The original loading of these terms was almost undoubtedly obscene,

   possibly referring to a douche bag or the scrotum (we have reports of

   "Bite the douche bag!" being used as a taunt at MIT 1970-1976, and we

   have another report that "Bite the bag!" was in common use at least as

   early as 1965), but in their current usage they have become almost

   completely sanitized.


   ITS's [1008]lexiphage program was the first and to date only known

   example of a program intended to be a bagbiter.



   Node:bagbiting, Next:[1009]baggy pantsing, Previous:[1010]bagbiter,

   Up:[1011]= B =


   bagbiting adj.


   Having the quality of a [1012]bagbiter. "This bagbiting system won't

   let me compute the factorial of a negative number." Compare

   [1013]losing, [1014]cretinous, [1015]bletcherous, `barfucious' (under

   [1016]barfulous) and `chomping' (under [1017]chomp).



   Node:baggy pantsing, Next:[1018]balloonian variable,

   Previous:[1019]bagbiting, Up:[1020]= B =


   baggy pantsing v.


   [Georgia Tech] A "baggy pantsing" is used to reprimand hackers who

   incautiously leave their terminals unlocked. The affected user will

   come back to find a post from them on internal newsgroups discussing

   exactly how baggy their pants are, an accepted stand-in for

   "unattentive user who left their work unprotected in the clusters". A

   properly-done baggy pantsing is highly mocking and humorous (see

   examples below). It is considered bad form to post a baggy pantsing to

   off-campus newsgroups or the more technical, serious groups. A

   particularly nice baggy pantsing may be "claimed" by immediately

   quoting the message in full, followed by your sig; this has the added

   benefit of keeping the embarassed victim from being able to delete the

   post. Interesting baggy-pantsings have been done involving adding

   commands to login scripts to repost the message every time the unlucky

   user logs in; Unix boxes on the residential network, when cracked,

   oftentimes have their homepages replaced (after being politely

   backedup to another file) with a baggy-pants message; .plan files are

   also occasionally targeted. Usage: "Prof. Greenlee fell asleep in the

   Solaris cluster again; we baggy-pantsed him to"



   Node:balloonian variable, Next:[1021]bamf, Previous:[1022]baggy

   pantsing, Up:[1023]= B =


   balloonian variable n.


   [Commodore users; perh. a deliberate phonetic mangling of `boolean

   variable'?] Any variable that doesn't actually hold or control state,

   but must nevertheless be declared, checked, or set. A typical

   balloonian variable started out as a flag attached to some environment

   feature that either became obsolete or was planned but never

   implemented. Compatibility concerns (or politics attached to same) may

   require that such a flag be treated as though it were [1024]live.



   Node:bamf, Next:[1025]banana label, Previous:[1026]balloonian

   variable, Up:[1027]= B =


   bamf /bamf/


   1. [from X-Men comics; originally "bampf"] interj. Notional sound made

   by a person or object teleporting in or out of the hearer's vicinity.

   Often used in [1028]virtual reality (esp. [1029]MUD) electronic

   [1030]fora when a character wishes to make a dramatic entrance or

   exit. 2. The sound of magical transformation, used in virtual reality

   [1031]fora like MUDs. 3. In MUD circles, "bamf" is also used to refer

   to the act by which a MUD server sends a special notification to the

   MUD client to switch its connection to another server ("I'll set up

   the old site to just bamf people over to our new location."). 4. Used

   by MUDders on occasion in a more general sense related to sense 3, to

   refer to directing someone to another location or resource ("A user

   was asking about some technobabble so I bamfed them to




   Node:banana label, Next:[1033]banana problem, Previous:[1034]bamf,

   Up:[1035]= B =


   banana label n.


   The labels often used on the sides of [1036]macrotape reels, so called

   because they are shaped roughly like blunt-ended bananas. This term,

   like macrotapes themselves, is still current but visibly headed for




   Node:banana problem, Next:[1037]binary four, Previous:[1038]banana

   label, Up:[1039]= B =


   banana problem n.


   [from the story of the little girl who said "I know how to spell

   `banana', but I don't know when to stop"]. Not knowing where or when

   to bring a production to a close (compare [1040]fencepost error). One

   may say `there is a banana problem' of an algorithm with poorly

   defined or incorrect termination conditions, or in discussing the

   evolution of a design that may be succumbing to featuritis (see also

   [1041]creeping elegance, [1042]creeping featuritis). See item 176

   under [1043]HAKMEM, which describes a banana problem in a

   [1044]Dissociated Press implementation. Also, see [1045]one-banana

   problem for a superficially similar but unrelated usage.



   Node:binary four, Next:[1046]bandwidth, Previous:[1047]banana problem,

   Up:[1048]= B =


   binary four n.


   [Usenet] The finger, in the sense of `digitus impudicus'. This comes

   from an analogy between binary and the hand, i.e. 1=00001=thumb,

   2=00010=index finger, 3=00011=index and thumb, 4=00100. Considered

   silly. Prob. from humorous derivative of [1049]finger, sense 4.



   Node:bandwidth, Next:[1050]bang, Previous:[1051]binary four,

   Up:[1052]= B =


   bandwidth n.


   1. [common] Used by hackers (in a generalization of its technical

   meaning) as the volume of information per unit time that a computer,

   person, or transmission medium can handle. "Those are amazing

   graphics, but I missed some of the detail -- not enough bandwidth, I

   guess." Compare [1053]low-bandwidth. This generalized usage began to

   go mainstream after the Internet population explosion of 1993-1994. 2.

   Attention span. 3. On [1054]Usenet, a measure of network capacity that

   is often wasted by people complaining about how items posted by others

   are a waste of bandwidth.



   Node:bang, Next:[1055]bang on, Previous:[1056]bandwidth, Up:[1057]= B





   1. n. Common spoken name for ! (ASCII 0100001), especially when used

   in pronouncing a [1058]bang path in spoken hackish. In [1059]elder

   days this was considered a CMUish usage, with MIT and Stanford hackers

   preferring [1060]excl or [1061]shriek; but the spread of Unix has

   carried `bang' with it (esp. via the term [1062]bang path) and it is

   now certainly the most common spoken name for !. Note that it is used

   exclusively for non-emphatic written !; one would not say

   "Congratulations bang" (except possibly for humorous purposes), but if

   one wanted to specify the exact characters `foo!' one would speak "Eff

   oh oh bang". See [1063]shriek, [1064]ASCII. 2. interj. An exclamation

   signifying roughly "I have achieved enlightenment!", or "The dynamite

   has cleared out my brain!" Often used to acknowledge that one has

   perpetrated a [1065]thinko immediately after one has been called on




   Node:bang on, Next:[1066]bang path, Previous:[1067]bang, Up:[1068]= B



   bang on vt.


   To stress-test a piece of hardware or software: "I banged on the new

   version of the simulator all day yesterday and it didn't crash once. I

   guess it is ready for release." The term [1069]pound on is synonymous.



   Node:bang path, Next:[1070]banner, Previous:[1071]bang on, Up:[1072]=

   B =


   bang path n.


   [now historical] An old-style UUCP electronic-mail address specifying

   hops to get from some assumed-reachable location to the addressee, so

   called because each [1073]hop is signified by a [1074]bang sign. Thus,

   for example, the path ...!bigsite!foovax!barbox!me directs people to

   route their mail to machine bigsite (presumably a well-known location

   accessible to everybody) and from there through the machine foovax to

   the account of user me on barbox.


   In the bad old days of not so long ago, before autorouting mailers

   became commonplace, people often published compound bang addresses

   using the { } convention (see [1075]glob) to give paths from several

   big machines, in the hopes that one's correspondent might be able to

   get mail to one of them reliably (example: ...!{seismo, ut-sally,

   ihnp4}!rice!beta!gamma!me). Bang paths of 8 to 10 hops were not

   uncommon in 1981. Late-night dial-up UUCP links would cause week-long

   transmission times. Bang paths were often selected by both

   transmission time and reliability, as messages would often get lost.

   See [1076]Internet address, [1077]the network, and [1078]sitename.



   Node:banner, Next:[1079]banner ad, Previous:[1080]bang path,

   Up:[1081]= B =


   banner n.


   1. The title page added to printouts by most print spoolers (see

   [1082]spool). Typically includes user or account ID information in

   very large character-graphics capitals. Also called a `burst page',

   because it indicates where to burst (tear apart) fanfold paper to

   separate one user's printout from the next. 2. A similar printout

   generated (typically on multiple pages of fan-fold paper) from

   user-specified text, e.g., by a program such as Unix's banner({1,6}).

   3. On interactive software, a first screen containing a logo and/or

   author credits and/or a copyright notice. This is probably now the

   commonest sense.



   Node:banner ad, Next:[1083]banner site, Previous:[1084]banner,

   Up:[1085]= B =


   banner ad n.


   Any of the annoying graphical advertisements that span the tops of way

   too many Web pages.



   Node:banner site, Next:[1086]bar, Previous:[1087]banner ad, Up:[1088]=

   B =


   banner site n.


   [warez d00dz] A FTP site storing pirated files where one must first

   click on several banners and/or subscribe to various `free' services,

   usually generating some form of revenues for the site owner, to be

   able to access the site. More often than not, the username/password

   painfully obtained by clicking on banners and subscribing to bogus

   services or mailing lists turns out to be non-working or gives access

   to a site that always responds busy. See [1089]ratio site, [1090]leech




   Node:bar, Next:[1091]bare metal, Previous:[1092]banner site,

   Up:[1093]= B =


   bar /bar/ n.


   1. [very common] The second [1094]metasyntactic variable, after

   [1095]foo and before [1096]baz. "Suppose we have two functions: FOO

   and BAR. FOO calls BAR...." 2. Often appended to [1097]foo to produce




   Node:bare metal, Next:[1099]barf, Previous:[1100]bar, Up:[1101]= B =


   bare metal n.


   1. [common] New computer hardware, unadorned with such snares and

   delusions as an [1102]operating system, an [1103]HLL, or even

   assembler. Commonly used in the phrase `programming on the bare

   metal', which refers to the arduous work of [1104]bit bashing needed

   to create these basic tools for a new machine. Real bare-metal

   programming involves things like building boot proms and BIOS chips,

   implementing basic monitors used to test device drivers, and writing

   the assemblers that will be used to write the compiler back ends that

   will give the new machine a real development environment. 2.

   `Programming on the bare metal' is also used to describe a style of

   [1105]hand-hacking that relies on bit-level peculiarities of a

   particular hardware design, esp. tricks for speed and space

   optimization that rely on crocks such as overlapping instructions (or,

   as in the famous case described in [1106]The Story of Mel (in Appendix

   A), interleaving of opcodes on a magnetic drum to minimize fetch

   delays due to the device's rotational latency). This sort of thing has

   become less common as the relative costs of programming time and

   machine resources have changed, but is still found in heavily

   constrained environments such as industrial embedded systems, and in

   the code of hackers who just can't let go of that low-level control.

   See [1107]Real Programmer.


   In the world of personal computing, bare metal programming (especially

   in sense 1 but sometimes also in sense 2) is often considered a

   [1108]Good Thing, or at least a necessary evil (because these machines

   have often been sufficiently slow and poorly designed to make it

   necessary; see [1109]ill-behaved). There, the term usually refers to

   bypassing the BIOS or OS interface and writing the application to

   directly access device registers and machine addresses. "To get 19.2

   kilobaud on the serial port, you need to get down to the bare metal."

   People who can do this sort of thing well are held in high regard.



   Node:barf, Next:[1110]barfmail, Previous:[1111]bare metal, Up:[1112]=

   B =


   barf /barf/ n.,v.


   [common; from mainstream slang meaning `vomit'] 1. interj. Term of

   disgust. This is the closest hackish equivalent of the Valspeak "gag

   me with a spoon". (Like, euwww!) See [1113]bletch. 2. vi. To say

   "Barf!" or emit some similar expression of disgust. "I showed him my

   latest hack and he barfed" means only that he complained about it, not

   that he literally vomited. 3. vi. To fail to work because of

   unacceptable input, perhaps with a suitable error message, perhaps

   not. Examples: "The division operation barfs if you try to divide by

   0." (That is, the division operation checks for an attempt to divide

   by zero, and if one is encountered it causes the operation to fail in

   some unspecified, but generally obvious, manner.) "The text editor

   barfs if you try to read in a new file before writing out the old

   one." See [1114]choke, [1115]gag. In Commonwealth Hackish, `barf' is

   generally replaced by `puke' or `vom'. [1116]barf is sometimes also

   used as a [1117]metasyntactic variable, like [1118]foo or [1119]bar.



   Node:barfmail, Next:[1120]barfulation, Previous:[1121]barf, Up:[1122]=

   B =


   barfmail n.


   Multiple [1123]bounce messages accumulating to the level of serious

   annoyance, or worse. The sort of thing that happens when an

   inter-network mail gateway goes down or wonky.



   Node:barfulation, Next:[1124]barfulous, Previous:[1125]barfmail,

   Up:[1126]= B =


   barfulation /bar`fyoo-lay'sh*n/ interj.


   Variation of [1127]barf used around the Stanford area. An exclamation,

   expressing disgust. On seeing some particularly bad code one might

   exclaim, "Barfulation! Who wrote this, Quux?"



   Node:barfulous, Next:[1128]barn, Previous:[1129]barfulation,

   Up:[1130]= B =


   barfulous /bar'fyoo-l*s/ adj.


   (alt. `barfucious', /bar-fyoo-sh*s/) Said of something that would make

   anyone barf, if only for esthetic reasons.



   Node:barn, Next:[1131]barney, Previous:[1132]barfulous, Up:[1133]= B =


   barn n.


   [uncommon; prob. from the nuclear military] An unexpectedly large

   quantity of something: a unit of measurement. "Why is /var/adm taking

   up so much space?" "The logs have grown to several barns." The source

   of this is clear: when physicists were first studying nuclear

   interactions, the probability was thought to be proportional to the

   cross-sectional area of the nucleus (this probability is still called

   the cross-section). Upon experimenting, they discovered the

   interactions were far more probable than expected; the nuclei were `as

   big as a barn'. The units for cross-sections were christened Barns,

   (10^-24 cm^2) and the book containing cross-sections has a picture of

   a barn on the cover.



   Node:barney, Next:[1134]baroque, Previous:[1135]barn, Up:[1136]= B =


   barney n.


   In Commonwealth hackish, `barney' is to [1137]fred (sense #1) as

   [1138]bar is to [1139]foo. That is, people who commonly use `fred' as

   their first metasyntactic variable will often use `barney' second. The

   reference is, of course, to Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in the

   Flintstones cartoons.



   Node:baroque, Next:[1140]BASIC, Previous:[1141]barney, Up:[1142]= B =


   baroque adj.


   [common] Feature-encrusted; complex; gaudy; verging on excessive. Said

   of hardware or (esp.) software designs, this has many of the

   connotations of [1143]elephantine or [1144]monstrosity but is less

   extreme and not pejorative in itself. "Metafont even has features to

   introduce random variations to its letterform output. Now that is

   baroque!" See also [1145]rococo.



   Node:BASIC, Next:[1146]batbelt, Previous:[1147]baroque, Up:[1148]= B =


   BASIC /bay'-sic/ n.


   A programming language, originally designed for Dartmouth's

   experimental timesharing system in the early 1960s, which for many

   years was the leading cause of brain damage in proto-hackers. Edsger

   W. Dijkstra observed in "Selected Writings on Computing: A Personal

   Perspective" that "It is practically impossible to teach good

   programming style to students that have had prior exposure to BASIC:

   as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of

   regeneration." This is another case (like [1149]Pascal) of the

   cascading [1150]lossage that happens when a language deliberately

   designed as an educational toy gets taken too seriously. A novice can

   write short BASIC programs (on the order of 10-20 lines) very easily;

   writing anything longer (a) is very painful, and (b) encourages bad

   habits that will make it harder to use more powerful languages well.

   This wouldn't be so bad if historical accidents hadn't made BASIC so

   common on low-end micros in the 1980s. As it is, it probably ruined

   tens of thousands of potential wizards.


   [1995: Some languages called `BASIC' aren't quite this nasty any more,

   having acquired Pascal- and C-like procedures and control structures

   and shed their line numbers. --ESR]


   Note: the name is commonly parsed as Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic

   Instruction Code, but this is a [1151]backronym. BASIC was originally

   named Basic, simply because it was a simple and basic programming

   language. Because most programming language names were in fact

   acronyms, BASIC was often capitalized just out of habit or to be

   silly. No acronym for BASIC originally existed or was intended (as one

   can verify by reading texts through the early 1970s). Later, around

   the mid-1970s, people began to make up backronyms for BASIC because

   they weren't sure. Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code is

   the one that caught on.



   Node:batbelt, Next:[1152]batch, Previous:[1153]BASIC, Up:[1154]= B =


   batbelt n.


   Many hackers routinely hang numerous devices such as pagers,

   cell-phones, personal organizers, leatherman multitools, pocket

   knives, flashlights, walkie-talkies, even miniature computers from

   their belts. When many of these devices are worn at once, the hacker's

   belt somewhat resembles Batman's utility belt; hence it is referred to

   as a batbelt.



   Node:batch, Next:[1155]bathtub curve, Previous:[1156]batbelt,

   Up:[1157]= B =


   batch adj.


   1. Non-interactive. Hackers use this somewhat more loosely than the

   traditional technical definitions justify; in particular, switches on

   a normally interactive program that prepare it to receive

   non-interactive command input are often referred to as `batch mode'

   switches. A `batch file' is a series of instructions written to be

   handed to an interactive program running in batch mode. 2. Performance

   of dreary tasks all at one sitting. "I finally sat down in batch mode

   and wrote out checks for all those bills; I guess they'll turn the

   electricity back on next week..." 3. `batching up': Accumulation of a

   number of small tasks that can be lumped together for greater

   efficiency. "I'm batching up those letters to send sometime" "I'm

   batching up bottles to take to the recycling center."



   Node:bathtub curve, Next:[1158]baud, Previous:[1159]batch, Up:[1160]=

   B =


   bathtub curve n.


   Common term for the curve (resembling an end-to-end section of one of

   those claw-footed antique bathtubs) that describes the expected

   failure rate of electronics with time: initially high, dropping to

   near 0 for most of the system's lifetime, then rising again as it

   `tires out'. See also [1161]burn-in period, [1162]infant mortality.



   Node:baud, Next:[1163]baud barf, Previous:[1164]bathtub curve,

   Up:[1165]= B =


   baud /bawd/ n.


   [simplified from its technical meaning] n. Bits per second. Hence

   kilobaud or Kbaud, thousands of bits per second. The technical meaning

   is `level transitions per second'; this coincides with bps only for

   two-level modulation with no framing or stop bits. Most hackers are

   aware of these nuances but blithely ignore them.


   Historical note: `baud' was originally a unit of telegraph signalling

   speed, set at one pulse per second. It was proposed at the November,

   1926 conference of the Comité Consultatif International Des

   Communications Télégraphiques as an improvement on the then standard

   practice of referring to line speeds in terms of words per minute, and

   named for Jean Maurice Emile Baudot (1845-1903), a French engineer who

   did a lot of pioneering work in early teleprinters.



   Node:baud barf, Next:[1166]baz, Previous:[1167]baud, Up:[1168]= B =


   baud barf /bawd barf/ n.


   The garbage one gets a terminal (or terminal emulator) when using a

   modem connection with some protocol setting (esp. line speed)

   incorrect, or when someone picks up a voice extension on the same

   line, or when really bad line noise disrupts the connection. Baud barf

   is not completely [1169]random, by the way; hackers with a lot of

   serial-line experience can usually tell whether the device at the

   other end is expecting a higher or lower speed than the terminal is

   set to. Really experienced ones can identify particular speeds.



   Node:baz, Next:[1170]bazaar, Previous:[1171]baud barf, Up:[1172]= B =


   baz /baz/ n.


   1. [common] The third [1173]metasyntactic variable "Suppose we have

   three functions: FOO, BAR, and BAZ. FOO calls BAR, which calls

   BAZ...." (See also [1174]fum) 2. interj. A term of mild annoyance. In

   this usage the term is often drawn out for 2 or 3 seconds, producing

   an effect not unlike the bleating of a sheep; /baaaaaaz/. 3.

   Occasionally appended to [1175]foo to produce `foobaz'.


   Earlier versions of this lexicon derived `baz' as a Stanford

   corruption of [1176]bar. However, Pete Samson (compiler of the

   [1177]TMRC lexicon) reports it was already current when he joined TMRC

   in 1958. He says "It came from "Pogo". Albert the Alligator, when

   vexed or outraged, would shout `Bazz Fazz!' or `Rowrbazzle!' The club

   layout was said to model the (mythical) New England counties of

   Rowrfolk and Bassex (Rowrbazzle mingled with




   Node:bazaar, Next:[1178]bboard, Previous:[1179]baz, Up:[1180]= B =


   bazaar n.,adj.


   In 1997, after meditatating on the success of [1181]Linux for three

   years, the Jargon File's own editor ESR wrote an analytical paper on

   hacker culture and development models titled [1182]The Cathedral and

   the Bazaar. The main argument of the paper was that [1183]Brooks's Law

   is not the whole story; given the right social machinery, debugging

   can be efficiently parallelized across large numbers of programmers.

   The title metaphor caught on (see also [1184]cathedral), and the style

   of development typical in the Linux community is now often referred to

   as the bazaar mode. Its characteristics include releasing code early

   and often, and actively seeking the largest possible pool of peer




   Node:bboard, Next:[1185]BBS, Previous:[1186]bazaar, Up:[1187]= B =


   bboard /bee'bord/ n.


   [contraction of `bulletin board'] 1. Any electronic bulletin board;

   esp. used of [1188]BBS systems running on personal micros, less

   frequently of a Usenet [1189]newsgroup (in fact, use of this term for

   a newsgroup generally marks one either as a [1190]newbie fresh in from

   the BBS world or as a real old-timer predating Usenet). 2. At CMU and

   other colleges with similar facilities, refers to campus-wide

   electronic bulletin boards. 3. The term `physical bboard' is sometimes

   used to refer to an old-fashioned, non-electronic cork-and-thumbtack

   memo board. At CMU, it refers to a particular one outside the CS



   In either of senses 1 or 2, the term is usually prefixed by the name

   of the intended board (`the Moonlight Casino bboard' or `market

   bboard'); however, if the context is clear, the better-read bboards

   may be referred to by name alone, as in (at CMU) "Don't post for-sale

   ads on general".



   Node:BBS, Next:[1191]BCPL, Previous:[1192]bboard, Up:[1193]= B =


   BBS /B-B-S/ n.


   [common; abbreviation, `Bulletin Board System'] An electronic bulletin

   board system; that is, a message database where people can log in and

   leave broadcast messages for others grouped (typically) into

   [1194]topic groups. The term was especially applied to the thousands

   of local BBS systems that operated during the pre-Internet

   microcomputer era of roughly 1980 to 1995, typically run by amateurs

   for fun out of their homes on MS-DOS boxes with a single modem line

   each. Fans of Usenet and Internet or the big commercial timesharing

   bboards such as CompuServe and GEnie tended to consider local BBSes

   the low-rent district of the hacker culture, but they served a

   valuable function by knitting together lots of hackers and users in

   the personal-micro world who would otherwise have been unable to

   exchange code at all. Post-Internet, BBSs are likely to be local

   newsgroups on an ISP; efficiency has increased but a certain flavor

   has been lost. See also [1195]bboard.



   Node:BCPL, Next:[1196]beam, Previous:[1197]BBS, Up:[1198]= B =


   BCPL // n.


   [abbreviation, `Basic Combined Programming Language') A programming

   language developed by Martin Richards in Cambridge in 1967. It is

   remarkable for its rich syntax, small size of compiler (it can be run

   in 16k) and extreme portability. It reached break-even point at a very

   early stage, and was the language in which the original [1199]hello

   world program was written. It has been ported to so many different

   systems that its creator confesses to having lost count. It has only

   one data type (a machine word) which can be used as an integer, a

   character, a floating point number, a pointer, or almost anything

   else, depending on context. BCPL was a precursor of C, which inherited

   some of its features.



   Node:beam, Next:[1200]beanie key, Previous:[1201]BCPL, Up:[1202]= B =


   beam vt.


   [from Star Trek Classic's "Beam me up, Scotty!"] 1. To transfer

   [1203]softcopy of a file electronically; most often in combining forms

   such as `beam me a copy' or `beam that over to his site'. 2. Palm

   Pilot users very commonly use this term for the act of exchanging bits

   via the infrared links on their machines (this term seems to have

   originated with the ill-fated Newton Message Pad). Compare

   [1204]blast, [1205]snarf, [1206]BLT.



   Node:beanie key, Next:[1207]beep, Previous:[1208]beam, Up:[1209]= B =


   beanie key n.


   [Mac users] See [1210]command key.



   Node:beep, Next:[1211]Befunge, Previous:[1212]beanie key, Up:[1213]= B



   beep n.,v.


   Syn. [1214]feep. This term is techspeak under MS-DOS and OS/2, and

   seems to be generally preferred among micro hobbyists.



   Node:Befunge, Next:[1215]beige toaster, Previous:[1216]beep,

   Up:[1217]= B =


   Befunge n.


   A worthy companion to [1218]INTERCAL; a computer language family which

   escapes the quotidian limitation of linear control flow and embraces

   program counters flying through multiple dimensions with exotic

   topologies. Sadly, the Befunge home page has vanished, but a Befunge

   version of the [1219]hello world program is at




   Node:beige toaster, Next:[1221]bells and whistles,

   Previous:[1222]Befunge, Up:[1223]= B =


   beige toaster n.


   A Macintosh. See [1224]toaster; compare [1225]Macintrash,




   Node:bells and whistles, Next:[1227]bells whistles and gongs,

   Previous:[1228]beige toaster, Up:[1229]= B =


   bells and whistles n.


   [common] Features added to a program or system to make it more

   [1230]flavorful from a hacker's point of view, without necessarily

   adding to its utility for its primary function. Distinguished from

   [1231]chrome, which is intended to attract users. "Now that we've got

   the basic program working, let's go back and add some bells and

   whistles." No one seems to know what distinguishes a bell from a

   whistle. The recognized emphatic form is "bells, whistles, and gongs".


   It used to be thought that this term derived from the toyboxes on

   theater organs. However, the "and gongs" strongly suggests a different

   origin, at sea. Before powered horns, ships routinely used bells,

   whistles, and gongs to signal each other over longer distances than

   voice can carry.



   Node:bells whistles and gongs, Next:[1232]benchmark,

   Previous:[1233]bells and whistles, Up:[1234]= B =


   bells whistles and gongs n.


   A standard elaborated form of [1235]bells and whistles; typically said

   with a pronounced and ironic accent on the `gongs'.



   Node:benchmark, Next:[1236]Berkeley Quality Software,

   Previous:[1237]bells whistles and gongs, Up:[1238]= B =


   benchmark n.


   [techspeak] An inaccurate measure of computer performance. "In the

   computer industry, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and

   benchmarks." Well-known ones include Whetstone, Dhrystone, Rhealstone

   (see [1239]h), the Gabriel LISP benchmarks (see [1240]gabriel), the

   SPECmark suite, and LINPACK. See also [1241]machoflops, [1242]MIPS,

   [1243]smoke and mirrors.



   Node:Berkeley Quality Software, Next:[1244]berklix,

   Previous:[1245]benchmark, Up:[1246]= B =


   Berkeley Quality Software adj.


   (often abbreviated `BQS') Term used in a pejorative sense to refer to

   software that was apparently created by rather spaced-out hackers late

   at night to solve some unique problem. It usually has nonexistent,

   incomplete, or incorrect documentation, has been tested on at least

   two examples, and core dumps when anyone else attempts to use it. This

   term was frequently applied to early versions of the dbx(1) debugger.

   See also [1247]Berzerkeley.


   Note to British and Commonwealth readers: that's /berk'lee/, not

   /bark'lee/ as in British Received Pronunciation.



   Node:berklix, Next:[1248]Berzerkeley, Previous:[1249]Berkeley Quality

   Software, Up:[1250]= B =


   berklix /berk'liks/ n.,adj.


   [contraction of `Berkeley Unix'] See [1251]BSD. Not used at Berkeley

   itself. May be more common among [1252]suits attempting to sound like

   cognoscenti than among hackers, who usually just say `BSD'.



   Node:Berzerkeley, Next:[1253]beta, Previous:[1254]berklix, Up:[1255]=

   B =


   Berzerkeley /b*r-zer'klee/ n.


   [from `berserk', via the name of a now-deceased record label; poss.

   originated by famed columnist Herb Caen] Humorous distortion of

   `Berkeley' used esp. to refer to the practices or products of the

   [1256]BSD Unix hackers. See [1257]software bloat,

   [1258]Missed'em-five, [1259]Berkeley Quality Software.


   Mainstream use of this term in reference to the cultural and political

   peculiarities of UC Berkeley as a whole has been reported from as far

   back as the 1960s.



   Node:beta, Next:[1260]BFI, Previous:[1261]Berzerkeley, Up:[1262]= B =


   beta /bay't*/, /be't*/ or (Commonwealth) /bee't*/ n.


   1. Mostly working, but still under test; usu. used with `in': `in

   beta'. In the [1263]Real World, systems (hardware or software)

   software often go through two stages of release testing: Alpha

   (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Beta releases are generally made to

   a group of lucky (or unlucky) trusted customers. 2. Anything that is

   new and experimental. "His girlfriend is in beta" means that he is

   still testing for compatibility and reserving judgment. 3. Flaky;

   dubious; suspect (since beta software is notoriously buggy).


   Historical note: More formally, to beta-test is to test a pre-release

   (potentially unreliable) version of a piece of software by making it

   available to selected (or self-selected) customers and users. This

   term derives from early 1960s terminology for product cycle

   checkpoints, first used at IBM but later standard throughout the

   industry. `Alpha Test' was the unit, module, or component test phase;

   `Beta Test' was initial system test. These themselves came from

   earlier A- and B-tests for hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and

   manufacturability evaluation done before any commitment to design and

   development. The B-test was a demonstration that the engineering model

   functioned as specified. The C-test (corresponding to today's beta)

   was the B-test performed on early samples of the production design,

   and the D test was the C test repeated after the model had been in

   production a while.



   Node:BFI, Next:[1264]bible, Previous:[1265]beta, Up:[1266]= B =


   BFI /B-F-I/ n.


   See [1267]brute force and ignorance. Also encountered in the variants

   `BFMI', `brute force and massive ignorance' and `BFBI' `brute force

   and bloody ignorance'. In dome parts of the U.S. this abbreviation was

   probably reinforced by a company called Browning-Ferris Industries who

   used to be in the waste-management business; a large BFI logo in

   white-on-blue could be seen on the sides of garbage trucks.



   Node:bible, Next:[1268]BiCapitalization, Previous:[1269]BFI,

   Up:[1270]= B =


   bible n.


   1. One of a small number of fundamental source books such as

   [1271]Knuth, [1272]K&R, or the [1273]Camel Book. 2. The most detailed

   and authoritative reference for a particular language, operating

   system, or other complex software system.



   Node:BiCapitalization, Next:[1274]B1FF, Previous:[1275]bible,

   Up:[1276]= B =


   BiCapitalization n.


   The act said to have been performed on trademarks (such as

   [1277]PostScript, NeXT, [1278]NeWS, VisiCalc, FrameMaker, TK!solver,

   EasyWriter) that have been raised above the ruck of common coinage by

   nonstandard capitalization. Too many [1279]marketroid types think this

   sort of thing is really cute, even the 2,317th time they do it.

   Compare [1280]studlycaps.



   Node:B1FF, Next:[1281]BI, Previous:[1282]BiCapitalization, Up:[1283]=

   B =


   B1FF /bif/ [Usenet] (alt. `BIFF') n.


   The most famous [1284]pseudo, and the prototypical [1285]newbie.

   Articles from B1FF feature all uppercase letters sprinkled liberally

   with bangs, typos, `cute' misspellings (EVRY BUDY LUVS GOOD OLD BIFF


   LIKE THIS!!!), use (and often misuse) of fragments of [1286]talk mode

   abbreviations, a long [1287]sig block (sometimes even a [1288]doubled

   sig), and unbounded naivete. B1FF posts articles using his elder

   brother's VIC-20. B1FF's location is a mystery, as his articles appear

   to come from a variety of sites. However, [1289]BITNET seems to be the

   most frequent origin. The theory that B1FF is a denizen of BITNET is

   supported by B1FF's (unfortunately invalid) electronic mail address:



   [1993: Now It Can Be Told! My spies inform me that B1FF was originally

   created by Joe Talmadge <>, also the author of the

   infamous and much-plagiarized "Flamer's Bible". The BIFF filter he

   wrote was later passed to Richard Sexton, who posted BIFFisms much

   more widely. Versions have since been posted for the amusement of the

   net at large. See also [1290]Jeff K. --ESR]



   Node:BI, Next:[1291]biff, Previous:[1292]B1FF, Up:[1293]= B =


   BI //


   Common written abbreviation for [1294]Breidbart Index.



   Node:biff, Next:[1295]Big Gray Wall, Previous:[1296]BI, Up:[1297]= B =


   biff /bif/ vt.


   To notify someone of incoming mail. From the BSD utility biff(1),

   which was in turn named after a friendly dog who used to chase

   frisbees in the halls at UCB while 4.2BSD was in development. There

   was a legend that it had a habit of barking whenever the mailman came,

   but the author of biff says this is not true. No relation to




   Node:Big Gray Wall, Next:[1299]big iron, Previous:[1300]biff,

   Up:[1301]= B =


   Big Gray Wall n.


   What faces a [1302]VMS user searching for documentation. A full VMS

   kit comes on a pallet, the documentation taking up around 15 feet of

   shelf space before the addition of layered products such as compilers,

   databases, multivendor networking, and programming tools. Recent

   (since VMS version 5) documentation comes with gray binders; under VMS

   version 4 the binders were orange (`big orange wall'), and under

   version 3 they were blue. See [1303]VMS. Often contracted to `Gray




   Node:big iron, Next:[1304]Big Red Switch, Previous:[1305]Big Gray

   Wall, Up:[1306]= B =


   big iron n.


   [common] Large, expensive, ultra-fast computers. Used generally of

   [1307]number-crunching supercomputers such as Crays, but can include

   more conventional big commercial IBMish mainframes. Term of approval;

   compare [1308]heavy metal, oppose [1309]dinosaur.



   Node:Big Red Switch, Next:[1310]Big Room, Previous:[1311]big iron,

   Up:[1312]= B =


   Big Red Switch n.


   [IBM] The power switch on a computer, esp. the `Emergency Pull' switch

   on an IBM [1313]mainframe or the power switch on an IBM PC where it

   really is large and red. "This !@%$% [1314]bitty box is hung again;

   time to hit the Big Red Switch." Sources at IBM report that, in tune

   with the company's passion for [1315]TLAs, this is often abbreviated

   as `BRS' (this has also become established on FidoNet and in the PC

   [1316]clone world). It is alleged that the emergency pull switch on an

   IBM 360/91 actually fired a non-conducting bolt into the main power

   feed; the BRSes on more recent mainframes physically drop a block into

   place so that they can't be pushed back in. People get fired for

   pulling them, especially inappropriately (see also [1317]molly-guard).

   Compare [1318]power cycle, [1319]three-finger salute, [1320]120 reset;

   see also [1321]scram switch.



   Node:Big Room, Next:[1322]big win, Previous:[1323]Big Red Switch,

   Up:[1324]= B =


   Big Room n.


   (Also `Big Blue Room') The extremely large room with the blue ceiling

   and intensely bright light (during the day) or black ceiling with lots

   of tiny night-lights (during the night) found outside all computer

   installations. "He can't come to the phone right now, he's somewhere

   out in the Big Room."



   Node:big win, Next:[1325]big-endian, Previous:[1326]Big Room,

   Up:[1327]= B =


   big win n.


   1. [common] Major success. 2. [MIT] Serendipity. "Yes, those two

   physicists discovered high-temperature superconductivity in a batch of

   ceramic that had been prepared incorrectly according to their

   experimental schedule. Small mistake; big win!" See [1328]win big.



   Node:big-endian, Next:[1329]bignum, Previous:[1330]big win, Up:[1331]=

   B =


   big-endian adj.


   [common; From Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" via the famous paper "On

   Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace" by Danny Cohen, USC/ISI IEN 137, dated

   April 1, 1980] 1. Describes a computer architecture in which, within a

   given multi-byte numeric representation, the most significant byte has

   the lowest address (the word is stored `big-end-first'). Most

   processors, including the IBM 370 family, the [1332]PDP-10, the

   Motorola microprocessor families, and most of the various RISC designs

   are big-endian. Big-endian byte order is also sometimes called

   `network order'. See [1333]little-endian, [1334]middle-endian,

   [1335]NUXI problem, [1336]swab. 2. An [1337]Internet address the wrong

   way round. Most of the world follows the Internet standard and writes

   email addresses starting with the name of the computer and ending up

   with the name of the country. In the U.K. the Joint Networking Team

   had decided to do it the other way round before the Internet domain

   standard was established. Most gateway sites have [1338]ad-hockery in

   their mailers to handle this, but can still be confused. In

   particular, the address could be interpreted in

   JANET's big-endian way as one in the U.K. (domain uk) or in the

   standard little-endian way as one in the domain as (American Samoa) on

   the opposite side of the world.



   Node:bignum, Next:[1339]bigot, Previous:[1340]big-endian, Up:[1341]= B



   bignum /big'nuhm/ n.


   [common; orig. from MIT MacLISP] 1. [techspeak] A multiple-precision

   computer representation for very large integers. 2. More generally,

   any very large number. "Have you ever looked at the United States

   Budget? There's bignums for you!" 3. [Stanford] In backgammon, large

   numbers on the dice especially a roll of double fives or double sixes

   (compare [1342]moby, sense 4). See also [1343]El Camino Bignum.


   Sense 1 may require some explanation. Most computer languages provide

   a kind of data called `integer', but such computer integers are

   usually very limited in size; usually they must be smaller than 2^(31)

   (2,147,483,648) or (on a [1344]bitty box) 2^(15) (32,768). If you want

   to work with numbers larger than that, you have to use floating-point

   numbers, which are usually accurate to only six or seven decimal

   places. Computer languages that provide bignums can perform exact

   calculations on very large numbers, such as 1000! (the factorial of

   1000, which is 1000 times 999 times 998 times ... times 2 times 1).

   For example, this value for 1000! was computed by the MacLISP system

   using bignums:























































   Node:bigot, Next:[1345]bit, Previous:[1346]bignum, Up:[1347]= B =


   bigot n.


   [common] A person who is religiously attached to a particular

   computer, language, operating system, editor, or other tool (see

   [1348]religious issues). Usually found with a specifier; thus, `cray

   bigot', `ITS bigot', `APL bigot', `VMS bigot', `Berkeley bigot'. Real

   bigots can be distinguished from mere partisans or zealots by the fact

   that they refuse to learn alternatives even when the march of time

   and/or technology is threatening to obsolete the favored tool. It is

   truly said "You can tell a bigot, but you can't tell him much."

   Compare [1349]weenie, [1350]Amiga Persecution Complex.



   Node:bit, Next:[1351]bit bang, Previous:[1352]bigot, Up:[1353]= B =


   bit n.


   [from the mainstream meaning and `Binary digIT'] 1. [techspeak] The

   unit of information; the amount of information obtained by asking a

   yes-or-no question for which the two outcomes are equally probable. 2.

   [techspeak] A computational quantity that can take on one of two

   values, such as true and false or 0 and 1. 3. A mental flag: a

   reminder that something should be done eventually. "I have a bit set

   for you." (I haven't seen you for a while, and I'm supposed to tell or

   ask you something.) 4. More generally, a (possibly incorrect) mental

   state of belief. "I have a bit set that says that you were the last

   guy to hack on EMACS." (Meaning "I think you were the last guy to hack

   on EMACS, and what I am about to say is predicated on this, so please

   stop me if this isn't true.")


   "I just need one bit from you" is a polite way of indicating that you

   intend only a short interruption for a question that can presumably be

   answered yes or no.


   A bit is said to be `set' if its value is true or 1, and `reset' or

   `clear' if its value is false or 0. One speaks of setting and clearing

   bits. To [1354]toggle or `invert' a bit is to change it, either from 0

   to 1 or from 1 to 0. See also [1355]flag, [1356]trit, [1357]mode bit.


   The term `bit' first appeared in print in the computer-science sense

   in a 1948 paper by information theorist Claude Shannon, and was there

   credited to the early computer scientist John Tukey (who also seems to

   have coined the term `software'). Tukey records that `bit' evolved

   over a lunch table as a handier alternative to `bigit' or `binit', at

   a conference in the winter of 1943-44.



   Node:bit bang, Next:[1358]bit bashing, Previous:[1359]bit, Up:[1360]=

   B =


   bit bang n.


   Transmission of data on a serial line, when accomplished by rapidly

   tweaking a single output bit, in software, at the appropriate times.

   The technique is a simple loop with eight OUT and SHIFT instruction

   pairs for each byte. Input is more interesting. And full duplex (doing

   input and output at the same time) is one way to separate the real

   hackers from the [1361]wannabees.


   Bit bang was used on certain early models of Prime computers,

   presumably when UARTs were too expensive, and on archaic Z80 micros

   with a Zilog PIO but no SIO. In an interesting instance of the

   [1362]cycle of reincarnation, this technique returned to use in the

   early 1990s on some RISC architectures because it consumes such an

   infinitesimal part of the processor that it actually makes sense not

   to have a UART. Compare [1363]cycle of reincarnation.



   Node:bit bashing, Next:[1364]bit bucket, Previous:[1365]bit bang,

   Up:[1366]= B =


   bit bashing n.


   (alt. `bit diddling' or [1367]bit twiddling) Term used to describe any

   of several kinds of low-level programming characterized by

   manipulation of [1368]bit, [1369]flag, [1370]nybble, and other

   smaller-than-character-sized pieces of data; these include low-level

   device control, encryption algorithms, checksum and error-correcting

   codes, hash functions, some flavors of graphics programming (see

   [1371]bitblt), and assembler/compiler code generation. May connote

   either tedium or a real technical challenge (more usually the former).

   "The command decoding for the new tape driver looks pretty solid but

   the bit-bashing for the control registers still has bugs." See also

   [1372]bit bang, [1373]mode bit.



   Node:bit bucket, Next:[1374]bit decay, Previous:[1375]bit bashing,

   Up:[1376]= B =


   bit bucket n.


   [very common] 1. The universal data sink (originally, the mythical

   receptacle used to catch bits when they fall off the end of a register

   during a shift instruction). Discarded, lost, or destroyed data is

   said to have `gone to the bit bucket'. On [1377]Unix, often used for

   [1378]/dev/null. Sometimes amplified as `the Great Bit Bucket in the

   Sky'. 2. The place where all lost mail and news messages eventually

   go. The selection is performed according to [1379]Finagle's Law;

   important mail is much more likely to end up in the bit bucket than

   junk mail, which has an almost 100% probability of getting delivered.

   Routing to the bit bucket is automatically performed by mail-transfer

   agents, news systems, and the lower layers of the network. 3. The

   ideal location for all unwanted mail responses: "Flames about this

   article to the bit bucket." Such a request is guaranteed to overflow

   one's mailbox with flames. 4. Excuse for all mail that has not been

   sent. "I mailed you those figures last week; they must have landed in

   the bit bucket." Compare [1380]black hole.


   This term is used purely in jest. It is based on the fanciful notion

   that bits are objects that are not destroyed but only misplaced. This

   appears to have been a mutation of an earlier term `bit box', about

   which the same legend was current; old-time hackers also report that

   trainees used to be told that when the CPU stored bits into memory it

   was actually pulling them `out of the bit box'. See also [1381]chad



   Another variant of this legend has it that, as a consequence of the

   `parity preservation law', the number of 1 bits that go to the bit

   bucket must equal the number of 0 bits. Any imbalance results in bits

   filling up the bit bucket. A qualified computer technician can empty a

   full bit bucket as part of scheduled maintenance.



   Node:bit decay, Next:[1382]bit rot, Previous:[1383]bit bucket,

   Up:[1384]= B =


   bit decay n.


   See [1385]bit rot. People with a physics background tend to prefer

   this variant for the analogy with particle decay. See also

   [1386]computron, [1387]quantum bogodynamics.



   Node:bit rot, Next:[1388]bit twiddling, Previous:[1389]bit decay,

   Up:[1390]= B =


   bit rot n.


   [common] Also [1391]bit decay. Hypothetical disease the existence of

   which has been deduced from the observation that unused programs or

   features will often stop working after sufficient time has passed,

   even if `nothing has changed'. The theory explains that bits decay as

   if they were radioactive. As time passes, the contents of a file or

   the code in a program will become increasingly garbled.


   There actually are physical processes that produce such effects (alpha

   particles generated by trace radionuclides in ceramic chip packages,

   for example, can change the contents of a computer memory

   unpredictably, and various kinds of subtle media failures can corrupt

   files in mass storage), but they are quite rare (and computers are

   built with error-detecting circuitry to compensate for them). The

   notion long favored among hackers that cosmic rays are among the

   causes of such events turns out to be a myth; see the [1392]cosmic

   rays entry for details.


   The term [1393]software rot is almost synonymous. Software rot is the

   effect, bit rot the notional cause.



   Node:bit twiddling, Next:[1394]bit-paired keyboard, Previous:[1395]bit

   rot, Up:[1396]= B =


   bit twiddling n.


   [very common] 1. (pejorative) An exercise in tuning (see [1397]tune)

   in which incredible amounts of time and effort go to produce little

   noticeable improvement, often with the result that the code becomes

   incomprehensible. 2. Aimless small modification to a program, esp. for

   some pointless goal. 3. Approx. syn. for [1398]bit bashing; esp. used

   for the act of frobbing the device control register of a peripheral in

   an attempt to get it back to a known state.



   Node:bit-paired keyboard, Next:[1399]bitblt, Previous:[1400]bit

   twiddling, Up:[1401]= B =


   bit-paired keyboard n.,obs.


   (alt. `bit-shift keyboard') A non-standard keyboard layout that seems

   to have originated with the Teletype ASR-33 and remained common for

   several years on early computer equipment. The ASR-33 was a mechanical

   device (see [1402]EOU), so the only way to generate the character

   codes from keystrokes was by some physical linkage. The design of the

   ASR-33 assigned each character key a basic pattern that could be

   modified by flipping bits if the SHIFT or the CTRL key was pressed. In

   order to avoid making the thing even more of a kluge than it already

   was, the design had to group characters that shared the same basic bit

   pattern on one key.


   Looking at the ASCII chart, we find:

high  low bits

bits  0000 0001 0010 0011 0100 0101 0110 0111 1000 1001

 010        !    "    #    $    %    &    '    (    )

 011   0    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9

   This is why the characters !"#$%&'() appear where they do on a

   Teletype (thankfully, they didn't use shift-0 for space). The Teletype

   Model 33 was actually designed before ASCII existed, and was

   originally intended to use a code that contained these two rows:

      low bits

high  0000  0010  0100  0110  1000  1010  1100  1110

bits     0001  0011  0101  0111  1001  1011  1101  1111

  10   )  ! bel #  $  % wru &  *  (  "  :  ?  _  ,   .

  11   0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  '  ;  /  - esc del

   The result would have been something closer to a normal keyboard. But

   as it happened, Teletype had to use a lot of persuasion just to keep

   ASCII, and the Model 33 keyboard, from looking like this instead:

          !  "  ?  $  '  &  -  (  )  ;  :  *  /  ,  .

       0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  +  ~  <  >  ×  |

   Teletype's was not the weirdest variant of the [1403]QWERTY layout

   widely seen, by the way; that prize should probably go to one of

   several (differing) arrangements on IBM's even clunkier 026 and 029

   card punches.


   When electronic terminals became popular, in the early 1970s, there

   was no agreement in the industry over how the keyboards should be laid

   out. Some vendors opted to emulate the Teletype keyboard, while others

   used the flexibility of electronic circuitry to make their product

   look like an office typewriter. Either choice was supported by the

   ANSI computer keyboard standard, X4.14-1971, which referred to the

   alternatives as `logical bit pairing' and `typewriter pairing'. These

   alternatives became known as `bit-paired' and `typewriter-paired'

   keyboards. To a hacker, the bit-paired keyboard seemed far more

   logical -- and because most hackers in those days had never learned to

   touch-type, there was little pressure from the pioneering users to

   adapt keyboards to the typewriter standard.


   The doom of the bit-paired keyboard was the large-scale introduction

   of the computer terminal into the normal office environment, where

   out-and-out technophobes were expected to use the equipment. The

   `typewriter-paired' standard became universal, X4.14 was superseded by

   X4.23-1982, `bit-paired' hardware was quickly junked or relegated to

   dusty corners, and both terms passed into disuse.


   However, in countries without a long history of touch typing, the

   argument against the bit-paired keyboard layout was weak or

   nonexistent. As a result, the standard Japanese keyboard, used on PCs,

   Unix boxen etc. still has all of the !"#$%&'() characters above the

   numbers in the ASR-33 layout.



   Node:bitblt, Next:[1404]BITNET, Previous:[1405]bit-paired keyboard,

   Up:[1406]= B =


   bitblt /bit'blit/ n.


   [from [1407]BLT, q.v.] 1. [common] Any of a family of closely related

   algorithms for moving and copying rectangles of bits between main and

   display memory on a bit-mapped device, or between two areas of either

   main or display memory (the requirement to do the [1408]Right Thing in

   the case of overlapping source and destination rectangles is what

   makes BitBlt tricky). 2. Synonym for [1409]blit or [1410]BLT. Both

   uses are borderline techspeak.



   Node:BITNET, Next:[1411]bits, Previous:[1412]bitblt, Up:[1413]= B =


   BITNET /bit'net/ n., obs.


   [acronym: Because It's Time NETwork] Everybody's least favorite piece

   of the network (see [1414]the network) - until AOL happened. The

   BITNET hosts were a collection of IBM dinosaurs and VAXen (the latter

   with lobotomized comm hardware) that communicate using 80-character

   [1415]EBCDIC card images (see [1416]eighty-column mind); thus, they

   tend to mangle the headers and text of third-party traffic from the

   rest of the ASCII/[1417]RFC-822 world with annoying regularity. BITNET

   was also notorious as the apparent home of [1418]B1FF. By 1995 it had,

   much to everyone's relief, been obsolesced and absorbed into the

   Internet. Unfortunately, around this time we also got AOL.



   Node:bits, Next:[1419]bitty box, Previous:[1420]BITNET, Up:[1421]= B =


   bits pl.n.


   1. Information. Examples: "I need some bits about file formats." ("I

   need to know about file formats.") Compare [1422]core dump, sense 4.

   2. Machine-readable representation of a document, specifically as

   contrasted with paper: "I have only a photocopy of the Jargon File;

   does anyone know where I can get the bits?". See [1423]softcopy,

   [1424]source of all good bits See also [1425]bit.



   Node:bitty box, Next:[1426]bixen, Previous:[1427]bits, Up:[1428]= B =


   bitty box /bit'ee boks/ n.


   1. A computer sufficiently small, primitive, or incapable as to cause

   a hacker acute claustrophobia at the thought of developing software on

   or for it. Especially used of small, obsolescent, single-tasking-only

   personal machines such as the Atari 800, Osborne, Sinclair, VIC-20,

   TRS-80, or IBM PC. 2. [Pejorative] More generally, the opposite of

   `real computer' (see [1429]Get a real computer!). See also

   [1430]mess-dos, [1431]toaster, and [1432]toy.



   Node:bixen, Next:[1433]bixie, Previous:[1434]bitty box, Up:[1435]= B =


   bixen pl.n.


   Users of BIX (the BIX Information eXchange, formerly the Byte

   Information eXchange). Parallels other plurals like boxen,

   [1436]VAXen, oxen.



   Node:bixie, Next:[1437]black art, Previous:[1438]bixen, Up:[1439]= B =


   bixie /bik'see/ n.


   Variant [1440]emoticons used on BIX (the BIX Information eXchange).

   The most common ([1441]smiley) bixie is <@_@>, representing two

   cartoon eyes and a mouth. These were originally invented in an SF

   fanzine called APA-L and imported to BIX by one of the earliest users.



   Node:black art, Next:[1442]black hole, Previous:[1443]bixie,

   Up:[1444]= B =


   black art n.


   [common] A collection of arcane, unpublished, and (by implication)

   mostly ad-hoc techniques developed for a particular application or

   systems area (compare [1445]black magic). VLSI design and compiler

   code optimization were (in their beginnings) considered classic

   examples of black art; as theory developed they became [1446]deep

   magic, and once standard textbooks had been written, became merely

   [1447]heavy wizardry. The huge proliferation of formal and informal

   channels for spreading around new computer-related technologies during

   the last twenty years has made both the term `black art' and what it

   describes less common than formerly. See also [1448]voodoo




   Node:black hole, Next:[1449]black magic, Previous:[1450]black art,

   Up:[1451]= B =


   black hole n.,vt.


   [common] What data (a piece of email or netnews, or a stream of TCP/IP

   packets) has fallen into if it disappears mysteriously between its

   origin and destination sites (that is, without returning a

   [1452]bounce message). "I think there's a black hole at foovax!"

   conveys suspicion that site foovax has been dropping a lot of stuff on

   the floor lately (see [1453]drop on the floor). The implied metaphor

   of email as interstellar travel is interesting in itself. Readily

   verbed as `blackhole': "That router is blackholing IDP packets."

   Compare [1454]bit bucket and see [1455]RBL.



   Node:black magic, Next:[1456]Black Screen of Death,

   Previous:[1457]black hole, Up:[1458]= B =


   black magic n.


   [common] A technique that works, though nobody really understands why.

   More obscure than [1459]voodoo programming, which may be done by

   cookbook. Compare also [1460]black art, [1461]deep magic, and

   [1462]magic number (sense 2).



   Node:Black Screen of Death, Next:[1463]Black Thursday,

   Previous:[1464]black magic, Up:[1465]= B =


   Black Screen of Death n.


   [prob. related to the Floating Head of Death in a famous "Far Side"

   cartoon.] A failure mode of [1466]Microsloth Windows. On an attempt to

   launch a DOS box, a networked Windows system not uncommonly blanks the

   screen and locks up the PC so hard that it requires a cold [1467]boot

   to recover. This unhappy phenomenon is known as The Black Screen of

   Death. See also [1468]Blue Screen of Death, which has become rather

   more common.



   Node:Black Thursday, Next:[1469]blammo, Previous:[1470]Black Screen of

   Death, Up:[1471]= B =


   Black Thursday n.


   February 8th, 1996 - the day of the signing into law of the [1472]CDA,

   so called by analogy with the catastrophic "Black Friday" in 1929 that

   began the Great Depression.



   Node:blammo, Next:[1473]blargh, Previous:[1474]Black Thursday,

   Up:[1475]= B =


   blammo v.


   [Oxford Brookes University and alumni, UK] To forcibly remove someone

   from any interactive system, especially talker systems. The operators,

   who may remain hidden, may `blammo' a user who is misbehaving. Very

   similar to MIT [1476]gun; in fact, the `blammo-gun' is a notional

   device used to `blammo' someone. While in actual fact the only

   incarnation of the blammo-gun is the command used to forcibly eject a

   user, operators speak of different levels of blammo-gun fire; e.g., a

   blammo-gun to `stun' will temporarily remove someone, but a blammo-gun

   set to `maim' will stop someone coming back on for a while.



   Node:blargh, Next:[1477]blast, Previous:[1478]blammo, Up:[1479]= B =


   blargh /blarg/ n.


   [MIT; now common] The opposite of [1480]ping, sense 5; an exclamation

   indicating that one has absorbed or is emitting a quantum of

   unhappiness. Less common than [1481]ping.



   Node:blast, Next:[1482]blat, Previous:[1483]blargh, Up:[1484]= B =


   blast 1. v.,n.


   Synonym for [1485]BLT, used esp. for large data sends over a network

   or comm line. Opposite of [1486]snarf. Usage: uncommon. The variant

   `blat' has been reported. 2. vt. [HP/Apollo] Synonymous with

   [1487]nuke (sense 3). Sometimes the message Unable to kill all

   processes. Blast them (y/n)? would appear in the command window upon




   Node:blat, Next:[1488]bletch, Previous:[1489]blast, Up:[1490]= B =


   blat n.


   1. Syn. [1491]blast, sense 1. 2. See [1492]thud.



   Node:bletch, Next:[1493]bletcherous, Previous:[1494]blat, Up:[1495]= B



   bletch /blech/ interj.


   [very common; from Yiddish/German `brechen', to vomit, poss. via

   comic-strip exclamation `blech'] Term of disgust. Often used in "Ugh,

   bletch". Compare [1496]barf.



   Node:bletcherous, Next:[1497]blink, Previous:[1498]bletch, Up:[1499]=

   B =


   bletcherous /blech'*-r*s/ adj.


   Disgusting in design or function; esthetically unappealing. This word

   is seldom used of people. "This keyboard is bletcherous!" (Perhaps the

   keys don't work very well, or are misplaced.) See [1500]losing,

   [1501]cretinous, [1502]bagbiting, [1503]bogus, and [1504]random. The

   term [1505]bletcherous applies to the esthetics of the thing so

   described; similarly for [1506]cretinous. By contrast, something that

   is `losing' or `bagbiting' may be failing to meet objective criteria.

   See also [1507]bogus and [1508]random, which have richer and wider

   shades of meaning than any of the above.



   Node:blink, Next:[1509]blinkenlights, Previous:[1510]bletcherous,

   Up:[1511]= B =


   blink vi.,n.


   To use a navigator or off-line message reader to minimize time spent

   on-line to a commercial network service (a necessity in many places

   outside the U.S. where the telecoms monopolies charge per-minute for

   local calls). This term attained wide use in the UK, but is rare or

   unknown in the US.



   Node:blinkenlights, Next:[1512]blit, Previous:[1513]blink, Up:[1514]=

   B =


   blinkenlights /blink'*n-li:tz/ n.


   [common] Front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer, esp. a

   [1515]dinosaur. Now that dinosaurs are rare, this term usually refers

   to status lights on a modem, network hub, or the like.


   This term derives from the last word of the famous blackletter-Gothic

   sign in mangled pseudo-German that once graced about half the computer

   rooms in the English-speaking world. One version ran in its entirety

   as follows:


                       ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!


     Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben.

     Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken

     mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das

     rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das

     pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.


   This silliness dates back at least as far as 1959 at Stanford

   University and had already gone international by the early 1960s, when

   it was reported at London University's ATLAS computing site. There are

   several variants of it in circulation, some of which actually do end

   with the word `blinkenlights'.


   In an amusing example of turnabout-is-fair-play, German hackers have

   developed their own versions of the blinkenlights poster in fractured

   English, one of which is reproduced here:




     This room is fullfilled mit special electronische equippment.

     Fingergrabbing and pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is

     allowed for die experts only! So all the "lefthanders" stay away

     and do not disturben the brainstorming von here working

     intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and kicked

     anderswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished

     the blinkenlights.


   See also [1516]geef.


   Old-time hackers sometimes get nostalgic for blinkenlights because

   they were so much more fun to look at than a blank panel. Sadly, very

   few computers still have them (the three LEDs on a PC keyboard

   certainly don't count). The obvious reasons (cost of wiring, cost of

   front-panel cutouts, almost nobody needs or wants to interpret

   machine-register states on the fly anymore) are only part of the

   story. Another part of it is that radio-frequency leakage from the

   lamp wiring was beginning to be a problem as far back as transistor

   machines. But the most fundamental fact is that there are very few

   signals slow enough to blink an LED these days! With slow CPUs, you

   could watch the bus register or instruction counter tick, but at

   33/66/150MHz it's all a blur.


   Finally, a version updated for the Internet has been seen on


                       ACHTUNG! ALLES LOOKENSPEEPERS!


     Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclicken und giffengrabben. Ist

     easy droppenpacket der routers und overloaden der backbone mit der

     spammen und der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das

     dumpkopfen. Das mausklicken sichtseeren keepen das bandwit-spewin

     hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.


   This newest version partly reflects reports that the word

   `blinkenlights' is (in 1999) undergoing something of a revival in

   usage, but applied to networking equipment. The transmit and receive

   lights on routers, activity lights on switches and hubs, and other

   network equipment often blink in visually pleasing and seemingly

   coordinated ways. Although this is different in some ways from

   register readings, a tall stack of Cisco equipment or a 19-inch rack

   of ISDN terminals can provoke a similar feeling of hypnotic awe,

   especially in a darkened network operations center or server room.



   Node:blit, Next:[1517]blitter, Previous:[1518]blinkenlights,

   Up:[1519]= B =


   blit /blit/ vt.


   1. [common] To copy a large array of bits from one part of a

   computer's memory to another part, particularly when the memory is

   being used to determine what is shown on a display screen. "The

   storage allocator picks through the table and copies the good parts up

   into high memory, and then blits it all back down again." See

   [1520]bitblt, [1521]BLT, [1522]dd, [1523]cat, [1524]blast,

   [1525]snarf. More generally, to perform some operation (such as

   toggling) on a large array of bits while moving them. 2. [historical,

   rare] Sometimes all-capitalized as `BLIT': an early experimental

   bit-mapped terminal designed by Rob Pike at Bell Labs, later

   commercialized as the AT&T 5620. (The folk etymology from `Bell Labs

   Intelligent Terminal' is incorrect. Its creators liked to claim that

   "Blit" stood for the Bacon, Lettuce, and Interactive Tomato.)



   Node:blitter, Next:[1526]blivet, Previous:[1527]blit, Up:[1528]= B =


   blitter /blit'r/ n.


   [common] A special-purpose chip or hardware system built to perform

   [1529]blit operations, esp. used for fast implementation of bit-mapped

   graphics. The Commodore Amiga and a few other micros have these, but

   since 1990 the trend has been away from them (however, see [1530]cycle

   of reincarnation). Syn. [1531]raster blaster.



   Node:blivet, Next:[1532]bloatware, Previous:[1533]blitter, Up:[1534]=

   B =


   blivet /bliv'*t/ n.


   [allegedly from a World War II military term meaning "ten pounds of

   manure in a five-pound bag"] 1. An intractable problem. 2. A crucial

   piece of hardware that can't be fixed or replaced if it breaks. 3. A

   tool that has been hacked over by so many incompetent programmers that

   it has become an unmaintainable tissue of hacks. 4. An out-of-control

   but unkillable development effort. 5. An embarrassing bug that pops up

   during a customer demo. 6. In the subjargon of computer security

   specialists, a denial-of-service attack performed by hogging limited

   resources that have no access controls (for example, shared spool

   space on a multi-user system).


   This term has other meanings in other technical cultures; among

   experimental physicists and hardware engineers of various kinds it

   seems to mean any random object of unknown purpose (similar to hackish

   use of [1535]frob). It has also been used to describe an amusing

   trick-the-eye drawing resembling a three-pronged fork that appears to

   depict a three-dimensional object until one realizes that the parts

   fit together in an impossible way.



   Node:bloatware, Next:[1536]BLOB, Previous:[1537]blivet, Up:[1538]= B =


   bloatware n.


   [common] Software that provides minimal functionality while requiring

   a disproportionate amount of diskspace and memory. Especially used for

   application and OS upgrades. This term is very common in the

   Windows/NT world. So is its cause.



   Node:BLOB, Next:[1539]block, Previous:[1540]bloatware, Up:[1541]= B =




   1. n. [acronym: Binary Large OBject] Used by database people to refer

   to any random large block of bits that needs to be stored in a

   database, such as a picture or sound file. The essential point about a

   BLOB is that it's an object that cannot be interpreted within the

   database itself. 2. v. To [1542]mailbomb someone by sending a BLOB to

   him/her; esp. used as a mild threat. "If that program crashes again,

   I'm going to BLOB the core dump to you."



   Node:block, Next:[1543]block transfer computations,

   Previous:[1544]BLOB, Up:[1545]= B =


   block v.


   [common; from process scheduling terminology in OS theory] 1. vi. To

   delay or sit idle while waiting for something. "We're blocking until

   everyone gets here." Compare [1546]busy-wait. 2. `block on' vt. To

   block, waiting for (something). "Lunch is blocked on Phil's arrival."



   Node:block transfer computations, Next:[1547]Bloggs Family,

   Previous:[1548]block, Up:[1549]= B =


   block transfer computations n.


   [from the television series "Dr. Who"] Computations so fiendishly

   subtle and complex that they could not be performed by machines. Used

   to refer to any task that should be expressible as an algorithm in

   theory, but isn't. (The Z80's LDIR instruction, "Computed Block

   Transfer with increment", may also be relevant.)



   Node:Bloggs Family, Next:[1550]blow an EPROM, Previous:[1551]block

   transfer computations, Up:[1552]= B =


   Bloggs Family n.


   An imaginary family consisting of Fred and Mary Bloggs and their

   children. Used as a standard example in knowledge representation to

   show the difference between extensional and intensional objects. For

   example, every occurrence of "Fred Bloggs" is the same unique person,

   whereas occurrences of "person" may refer to different people. Members

   of the Bloggs family have been known to pop up in bizarre places such

   as the old [1553]DEC Telephone Directory. Compare [1554]Dr. Fred

   Mbogo; [1555]J. Random Hacker; [1556]Fred Foobar.



   Node:blow an EPROM, Next:[1557]blow away, Previous:[1558]Bloggs

   Family, Up:[1559]= B =


   blow an EPROM /bloh *n ee'prom/ v.


   (alt. `blast an EPROM', `burn an EPROM') To program a read-only

   memory, e.g. for use with an embedded system. This term arose because

   the programming process for the Programmable Read-Only Memories

   (PROMs) that preceded present-day Erasable Programmable Read-Only

   Memories (EPROMs) involved intentionally blowing tiny electrical fuses

   on the chip. The usage lives on (it's too vivid and expressive to

   discard) even though the write process on EPROMs is nondestructive.



   Node:blow away, Next:[1560]blow out, Previous:[1561]blow an EPROM,

   Up:[1562]= B =


   blow away vt.


   To remove (files and directories) from permanent storage, generally by

   accident. "He reformatted the wrong partition and blew away last

   night's netnews." Oppose [1563]nuke.



   Node:blow out, Next:[1564]blow past, Previous:[1565]blow away,

   Up:[1566]= B =


   blow out vi.


   [prob. from mining and tunneling jargon] Of software, to fail

   spectacularly; almost as serious as [1567]crash and burn. See

   [1568]blow past, [1569]blow up, [1570]die horribly.



   Node:blow past, Next:[1571]blow up, Previous:[1572]blow out,

   Up:[1573]= B =


   blow past vt.


   To [1574]blow out despite a safeguard. "The server blew past the 5K

   reserve buffer."



   Node:blow up, Next:[1575]BLT, Previous:[1576]blow past, Up:[1577]= B =


   blow up vi.


   1. [scientific computation] To become unstable. Suggests that the

   computation is diverging so rapidly that it will soon overflow or at

   least go [1578]nonlinear. 2. Syn. [1579]blow out.



   Node:BLT, Next:[1580]Blue Book, Previous:[1581]blow up, Up:[1582]= B =


   BLT /B-L-T/, /bl*t/ or (rarely) /belt/ n.,vt.


   Synonym for [1583]blit. This is the original form of [1584]blit and

   the ancestor of [1585]bitblt. It referred to any large bit-field copy

   or move operation (one resource-intensive memory-shuffling operation

   done on pre-paged versions of ITS, WAITS, and TOPS-10 was sardonically

   referred to as `The Big BLT'). The jargon usage has outlasted the

   [1586]PDP-10 BLock Transfer instruction from which [1587]BLT derives;

   nowadays, the assembler mnemonic [1588]BLT almost always means `Branch

   if Less Than zero'.



   Node:Blue Book, Next:[1589]blue box, Previous:[1590]BLT, Up:[1591]= B



   Blue Book n.


   1. Informal name for one of the four standard references on the

   page-layout and graphics-control language [1592]PostScript

   ("PostScript Language Tutorial and Cookbook", Adobe Systems,

   Addison-Wesley 1985, QA76.73.P67P68, ISBN 0-201-10179-3); the other

   three official guides are known as the [1593]Green Book, the [1594]Red

   Book, and the [1595]White Book (sense 2). 2. Informal name for one of

   the three standard references on Smalltalk: "Smalltalk-80: The

   Language and its Implementation", David Robson, Addison-Wesley 1983,

   QA76.8.S635G64, ISBN 0-201-11371-63 (this book also has green and red

   siblings). 3. Any of the 1988 standards issued by the CCITT's ninth

   plenary assembly. These include, among other things, the X.400 email

   spec and the Group 1 through 4 fax standards. See also [1596]book




   Node:blue box, Next:[1597]Blue Glue, Previous:[1598]Blue Book,

   Up:[1599]= B =


   blue box


   n. 1. obs. Once upon a time, before all-digital switches made it

   possible for the phone companies to move them out of band, one could

   actually hear the switching tones used to route long-distance calls.

   Early [1600]phreakers built devices called `blue boxes' that could

   reproduce these tones, which could be used to commandeer portions of

   the phone network. (This was not as hard as it may sound; one early

   phreak acquired the sobriquet `Captain Crunch' after he proved that he

   could generate switching tones with a plastic whistle pulled out of a

   box of Captain Crunch cereal!) There were other colors of box with

   more specialized phreaking uses; red boxes, black boxes, silver boxes,

   etc. 2. n. An [1601]IBM machine, especially a large (non-PC) one.



   Node:Blue Glue, Next:[1602]blue goo, Previous:[1603]blue box,

   Up:[1604]= B =


   Blue Glue n.


   [IBM] IBM's SNA (Systems Network Architecture), an incredibly

   [1605]losing and [1606]bletcherous communications protocol widely

   favored at commercial shops that don't know any better. The official

   IBM definition is "that which binds blue boxes together." See

   [1607]fear and loathing. It may not be irrelevant that Blue Glue is

   the trade name of a 3M product that is commonly used to hold down the

   carpet squares to the removable panel floors common in [1608]dinosaur

   pens. A correspondent at U. Minn. reports that the CS department there

   has about 80 bottles of the stuff hanging about, so they often refer

   to any messy work to be done as `using the blue glue'.



   Node:blue goo, Next:[1609]Blue Screen of Death, Previous:[1610]Blue

   Glue, Up:[1611]= B =


   blue goo n.


   Term for `police' [1612]nanobots intended to prevent [1613]gray goo,

   denature hazardous waste, destroy pollution, put ozone back into the

   stratosphere, prevent halitosis, and promote truth, justice, and the

   American way, etc. The term `Blue Goo' can be found in Dr. Seuss's

   "Fox In Socks" to refer to a substance much like bubblegum. `Would you

   like to chew blue goo, sir?'. See [1614]nanotechnology.



   Node:Blue Screen of Death, Next:[1615]blue wire, Previous:[1616]blue

   goo, Up:[1617]= B =


   Blue Screen of Death n.


   [common] This term is closely related to the older [1618]Black Screen

   of Death but much more common (many non-hackers have picked it up).

   Due to the extreme fragility and bugginess of Microsoft Windows

   misbehaving applications can readily crash the OS (and the OS

   sometimes crashes itself spontaneously). The Blue Screen of Death,

   sometimes decorated with hex error codes, is what you get when this

   happens. (Commonly abbreviated [1619]BSOD.)


   The following entry from the [1620]Salon Haiku Contest, seems to have

   predated popular use of the term:

        Windows NT crashed.

        I am the Blue Screen of Death

        No one hears your screams.



   Node:blue wire, Next:[1621]blurgle, Previous:[1622]Blue Screen of

   Death, Up:[1623]= B =


   blue wire n.


   [IBM] Patch wires (esp. 30 AWG gauge) added to circuit boards at the

   factory to correct design or fabrication problems. Blue wire is not

   necessarily blue, the term describes function rather than color. These

   may be necessary if there hasn't been time to design and qualify

   another board version. In Great Britain this can be `bodge wire',

   after mainstreanm slang `bodge' for a clumsy improvisation or sloppy

   job of work. Compare [1624]purple wire, [1625]red wire, [1626]yellow

   wire, [1627]pink wire.



   Node:blurgle, Next:[1628]BNF, Previous:[1629]blue wire, Up:[1630]= B =


   blurgle /bler'gl/ n.


   [UK] Spoken [1631]metasyntactic variable, to indicate some text that

   is obvious from context, or which is already known. If several words

   are to be replaced, blurgle may well be doubled or tripled. "To look

   for something in several files use `grep string blurgle blurgle'." In

   each case, "blurgle blurgle" would be understood to be replaced by the

   file you wished to search. Compare [1632]mumble, sense 7.



   Node:BNF, Next:[1633]boa, Previous:[1634]blurgle, Up:[1635]= B =


   BNF /B-N-F/ n.


   1. [techspeak] Acronym for `Backus Normal Form' (later retronymed to

   `Backus-Naur Form' because BNF was not in fact a normal form), a

   metasyntactic notation used to specify the syntax of programming

   languages, command sets, and the like. Widely used for language

   descriptions but seldom documented anywhere, so that it must usually

   be learned by osmosis from other hackers. Consider this BNF for a U.S.

   postal address:

 <postal-address> ::= <name-part> <street-address> <zip-part>

 <personal-part> ::= <name> | <initial> "."

 <name-part> ::= <personal-part> <last-name> [<jr-part>] <EOL>

               | <personal-part> <name-part>

 <street-address> ::= [<apt>] <house-num> <street-name> <EOL>

 <zip-part> ::= <town-name> "," <state-code> <ZIP-code> <EOL>

   This translates into English as: "A postal-address consists of a

   name-part, followed by a street-address part, followed by a zip-code

   part. A personal-part consists of either a first name or an initial

   followed by a dot. A name-part consists of either: a personal-part

   followed by a last name followed by an optional `jr-part' (Jr., Sr.,

   or dynastic number) and end-of-line, or a personal part followed by a

   name part (this rule illustrates the use of recursion in BNFs,

   covering the case of people who use multiple first and middle names

   and/or initials). A street address consists of an optional apartment

   specifier, followed by a street number, followed by a street name. A

   zip-part consists of a town-name, followed by a comma, followed by a

   state code, followed by a ZIP-code followed by an end-of-line." Note

   that many things (such as the format of a personal-part, apartment

   specifier, or ZIP-code) are left unspecified. These are presumed to be

   obvious from context or detailed somewhere nearby. See also

   [1636]parse. 2. Any of a number of variants and extensions of BNF

   proper, possibly containing some or all of the [1637]regexp wildcards

   such as * or +. In fact the example above isn't the pure form invented

   for the Algol-60 report; it uses [], which was introduced a few years

   later in IBM's PL/I definition but is now universally recognized. 3.

   In [1638]science-fiction fandom, a `Big-Name Fan' (someone famous or

   notorious). Years ago a fan started handing out black-on-green BNF

   buttons at SF conventions; this confused the hacker contingent




   Node:boa, Next:[1639]board, Previous:[1640]BNF, Up:[1641]= B =


   boa [IBM] n.


   Any one of the fat cables that lurk under the floor in a

   [1642]dinosaur pen. Possibly so called because they display a

   ferocious life of their own when you try to lay them straight and flat

   after they have been coiled for some time. It is rumored within IBM

   that channel cables for the 370 are limited to 200 feet because beyond

   that length the boas get dangerous -- and it is worth noting that one

   of the major cable makers uses the trademark `Anaconda'.



   Node:board, Next:[1643]boat anchor, Previous:[1644]boa, Up:[1645]= B =


   board n.


   1. In-context synonym for [1646]bboard; sometimes used even for Usenet

   newsgroups (but see usage note under [1647]bboard, sense 1). 2. An

   electronic circuit board.



   Node:boat anchor, Next:[1648]bob, Previous:[1649]board, Up:[1650]= B =


   boat anchor n.


   [common; from ham radio] 1. Like [1651]doorstop but more severe;

   implies that the offending hardware is irreversibly dead or useless.

   "That was a working motherboard once. One lightning strike later,

   instant boat anchor!" 2. A person who just takes up space. 3. Obsolete

   but still working hardware, especially when used of an old S100-bus

   hobbyist system; originally a term of annoyance, but became more and

   more affectionate as the hardware became more and more obsolete.



   Node:bob, Next:[1652]bodysurf code, Previous:[1653]boat anchor,

   Up:[1654]= B =


   bob n.


   At [1655]Demon Internet, all tech support personnel are called "Bob".

   (Female support personnel have an option on "Bobette"). This has

   nothing to do with Bob the divine drilling-equipment salesman of the

   [1656]Church of the SubGenius. Nor is it acronymized from "Brother Of

   [1657]BOFH", though all parties agree it could have been. Rather, it

   was triggered by an unusually large draft of new tech-support people

   in 1995. It was observed that there would be much duplication of

   names. To ease the confusion, it was decided that all support techs

   would henceforth be known as "Bob", and identity badges were created

   labelled "Bob 1" and "Bob 2". ("No, we never got any further" reports

   a witness).


   The reason for "Bob" rather than anything else is due to a [1658]luser

   calling and asking to speak to "Bob", despite the fact that no "Bob"

   was currently working for Tech Support. Since we all know "the

   customer is always right", it was decided that there had to be at

   least one "Bob" on duty at all times, just in case.


   This sillyness inexorably snowballed. Shift leaders and managers began

   to refer to their groups of "bobs". Whole ranks of support machines

   were set up (and still exist in the DNS as of 1999) as bob1 through

   bobN. Then came, and it was filled with

   Demon support personnel. They all referred to themselves, and to

   others, as `bob', and after a while it caught on. There is now a

   [1659]Bob Code describing the Bob nature.



   Node:bodysurf code, Next:[1660]BOF, Previous:[1661]bob, Up:[1662]= B =


   bodysurf code n.


   A program or segment of code written quickly in the heat of

   inspiration without the benefit of formal design or deep thought. Like

   its namesake sport, the result is too often a wipeout that leaves the

   programmer eating sand.



   Node:BOF, Next:[1663]BOFH, Previous:[1664]bodysurf code, Up:[1665]= B



   BOF /B-O-F/ or /bof/ n.


   1. [common] Abbreviation for the phrase "Birds Of a Feather" (flocking

   together), an informal discussion group and/or bull session scheduled

   on a conference program. It is not clear where or when this term

   originated, but it is now associated with the USENIX conferences for

   Unix techies and was already established there by 1984. It was used

   earlier than that at DECUS conferences and is reported to have been

   common at SHARE meetings as far back as the early 1960s. 2. Acronym,

   `Beginning of File'.



   Node:BOFH, Next:[1666]bogo-sort, Previous:[1667]BOF, Up:[1668]= B =


   BOFH // n.


   [common] Acronym, Bastard Operator From Hell. A system administrator

   with absolutely no tolerance for [1669]lusers. "You say you need more

   filespace? <massive-global-delete> Seems to me you have plenty

   left..." Many BOFHs (and others who would be BOFHs if they could get

   away with it) hang out in the newsgroup alt.sysadmin.recovery,

   although there has also been created a top-level newsgroup hierarchy

   (bofh.*) of their own.


   Several people have written stories about BOFHs. The set usually

   considered canonical is by Simon Travaglia and may be found at the

   [1670]Bastard Home Page. BOFHs and BOFH wannabes hang out on

   [1671]scary devil monastery and wield [1672]LARTs.



   Node:bogo-sort, Next:[1673]bogometer, Previous:[1674]BOFH, Up:[1675]=

   B =


   bogo-sort /boh`goh-sort'/ n.


   (var. `stupid-sort') The archetypical perversely awful algorithm (as

   opposed to [1676]bubble sort, which is merely the generic bad

   algorithm). Bogo-sort is equivalent to repeatedly throwing a deck of

   cards in the air, picking them up at random, and then testing whether

   they are in order. It serves as a sort of canonical example of

   awfulness. Looking at a program and seeing a dumb algorithm, one might

   say "Oh, I see, this program uses bogo-sort." Esp. appropriate for

   algorithms with factorial or super-exponential running time in the

   average case and probabilistically infinite worst-case running time.

   Compare [1677]bogus, [1678]brute force, [1679]lasherism.


   A spectacular variant of bogo-sort has been proposed which has the

   interesting property that, if the Many Worlds interpretation of

   quantum mechanics is true, it can sort an arbitrarily large array in

   constant time. (In the Many-Worlds model, the result of any quantum

   action is to split the universe-before into a sheaf of

   universes-after, one for each possible way the state vector can

   collapse; in any one of the universes-after the result appears

   random.) The steps are: 1. Permute the array randomly using a quantum

   process, 2. If the array is not sorted, destroy the universe.

   Implementation of step 2 is left as an exercise for the reader.



   Node:bogometer, Next:[1680]BogoMIPS, Previous:[1681]bogo-sort,

   Up:[1682]= B =


   bogometer /boh-gom'-*t-er/ n.


   A notional instrument for measuring [1683]bogosity. Compare the

   [1684]Troll-O-Meter and the `wankometer' described in the [1685]wank

   entry; see also [1686]bogus.



   Node:BogoMIPS, Next:[1687]bogon, Previous:[1688]bogometer, Up:[1689]=

   B =


   BogoMIPS /bo'go-mips/ n.


   The number of million times a second a processor can do absolutely

   nothing. The [1690]Linux OS measures BogoMIPS at startup in order to

   calibrate some soft timing loops that will be used later on; details

   at [1691]the BogoMIPS mini-HOWTO. The name Linus chose, of course, is

   an ironic comment on the uselessness of all other [1692]MIPS figures.



   Node:bogon, Next:[1693]bogon filter, Previous:[1694]BogoMIPS,

   Up:[1695]= B =


   bogon /boh'gon/ n.


   [very common; by analogy with proton/electron/neutron, but doubtless

   reinforced after 1980 by the similarity to Douglas Adams's `Vogons';

   see the [1696]Bibliography in Appendix C and note that Arthur Dent

   actually mispronounces `Vogons' as `Bogons' at one point] 1. The

   elementary particle of bogosity (see [1697]quantum bogodynamics). For

   instance, "the Ethernet is emitting bogons again" means that it is

   broken or acting in an erratic or bogus fashion. 2. A query packet

   sent from a TCP/IP domain resolver to a root server, having the reply

   bit set instead of the query bit. 3. Any bogus or incorrectly formed

   packet sent on a network. 4. By synecdoche, used to refer to any bogus

   thing, as in "I'd like to go to lunch with you but I've got to go to

   the weekly staff bogon". 5. A person who is bogus or who says bogus

   things. This was historically the original usage, but has been

   overtaken by its derivative senses 1-4. See also [1698]bogosity,

   [1699]bogus; compare [1700]psyton, [1701]fat electrons, [1702]magic



   The bogon has become the type case for a whole bestiary of nonce

   particle names, including the `clutron' or `cluon' (indivisible

   particle of cluefulness, obviously the antiparticle of the bogon) and

   the futon (elementary particle of [1703]randomness, or sometimes of

   lameness). These are not so much live usages in themselves as examples

   of a live meta-usage: that is, it has become a standard joke or

   linguistic maneuver to "explain" otherwise mysterious circumstances by

   inventing nonce particle names. And these imply nonce particle

   theories, with all their dignity or lack thereof (we might note

   parenthetically that this is a generalization from "(bogus particle)

   theories" to "bogus (particle theories)"!). Perhaps such particles are

   the modern-day equivalents of trolls and wood-nymphs as standard

   starting-points around which to construct explanatory myths. Of

   course, playing on an existing word (as in the `futon') yields

   additional flavor. Compare [1704]magic smoke.



   Node:bogon filter, Next:[1705]bogon flux, Previous:[1706]bogon,

   Up:[1707]= B =


   bogon filter /boh'gon fil'tr/ n.


   Any device, software or hardware, that limits or suppresses the flow

   and/or emission of bogons. "Engineering hacked a bogon filter between

   the Cray and the VAXen, and now we're getting fewer dropped packets."

   See also [1708]bogosity, [1709]bogus.



   Node:bogon flux, Next:[1710]bogosity, Previous:[1711]bogon filter,

   Up:[1712]= B =


   bogon flux /boh'gon fluhks/ n.


   A measure of a supposed field of [1713]bogosity emitted by a speaker,

   measured by a [1714]bogometer; as a speaker starts to wander into

   increasing bogosity a listener might say "Warning, warning, bogon flux

   is rising". See [1715]quantum bogodynamics.



   Node:bogosity, Next:[1716]bogotify, Previous:[1717]bogon flux,

   Up:[1718]= B =


   bogosity /boh-go's*-tee/ n.


   1. [orig. CMU, now very common] The degree to which something is

   [1719]bogus. Bogosity is measured with a [1720]bogometer; in a

   seminar, when a speaker says something bogus, a listener might raise

   his hand and say "My bogometer just triggered". More extremely, "You

   just pinned my bogometer" means you just said or did something so

   outrageously bogus that it is off the scale, pinning the bogometer

   needle at the highest possible reading (one might also say "You just

   redlined my bogometer"). The agreed-upon unit of bogosity is the

   [1721]microLenat. 2. The potential field generated by a [1722]bogon

   flux; see [1723]quantum bogodynamics. See also [1724]bogon flux,

   [1725]bogon filter, [1726]bogus.



   Node:bogotify, Next:[1727]bogue out, Previous:[1728]bogosity,

   Up:[1729]= B =


   bogotify /boh-go't*-fi:/ vt.


   To make or become bogus. A program that has been changed so many times

   as to become completely disorganized has become bogotified. If you

   tighten a nut too hard and strip the threads on the bolt, the bolt has

   become bogotified and you had better not use it any more. This coinage

   led to the notional `autobogotiphobia' defined as `the fear of

   becoming bogotified'; but is not clear that the latter has ever been

   `live' jargon rather than a self-conscious joke in jargon about

   jargon. See also [1730]bogosity, [1731]bogus.



   Node:bogue out, Next:[1732]bogus, Previous:[1733]bogotify, Up:[1734]=

   B =


   bogue out /bohg owt/ vi.


   To become bogus, suddenly and unexpectedly. "His talk was relatively

   sane until somebody asked him a trick question; then he bogued out and

   did nothing but [1735]flame afterwards." See also [1736]bogosity,




   Node:bogus, Next:[1738]Bohr bug, Previous:[1739]bogue out, Up:[1740]=

   B =


   bogus adj.


   1. Non-functional. "Your patches are bogus." 2. Useless. "OPCON is a

   bogus program." 3. False. "Your arguments are bogus." 4. Incorrect.

   "That algorithm is bogus." 5. Unbelievable. "You claim to have solved

   the halting problem for Turing Machines? That's totally bogus." 6.

   Silly. "Stop writing those bogus sagas."


   Astrology is bogus. So is a bolt that is obviously about to break. So

   is someone who makes blatantly false claims to have solved a

   scientific problem. (This word seems to have some, but not all, of the

   connotations of [1741]random -- mostly the negative ones.)


   It is claimed that `bogus' was originally used in the hackish sense at

   Princeton in the late 1960s. It was spread to CMU and Yale by Michael

   Shamos, a migratory Princeton alumnus. A glossary of bogus words was

   compiled at Yale when the word was first popularized there about

   1975-76. These coinages spread into hackerdom from CMU and MIT. Most

   of them remained wordplay objects rather than actual vocabulary items

   or live metaphors. Examples: `amboguous' (having multiple bogus

   interpretations); `bogotissimo' (in a gloriously bogus manner);

   `bogotophile' (one who is pathologically fascinated by the bogus);

   `paleobogology' (the study of primeval bogosity).


   Some bogowords, however, obtained sufficient live currency to be

   listed elsewhere in this lexicon; see [1742]bogometer, [1743]bogon,

   [1744]bogotify, and [1745]quantum bogodynamics and the related but

   unlisted [1746]Dr. Fred Mbogo.


   By the early 1980s `bogus' was also current in something like hacker

   usage sense in West Coast teen slang, and it had gone mainstream by

   1985. A correspondent from Cambridge reports, by contrast, that these

   uses of `bogus' grate on British nerves; in Britain the word means,

   rather specifically, `counterfeit', as in "a bogus 10-pound note".



   Node:Bohr bug, Next:[1747]boink, Previous:[1748]bogus, Up:[1749]= B =


   Bohr bug /bohr buhg/ n.


   [from quantum physics] A repeatable [1750]bug; one that manifests

   reliably under a possibly unknown but well-defined set of conditions.

   Antonym of [1751]heisenbug; see also [1752]mandelbug,




   Node:boink, Next:[1754]bomb, Previous:[1755]Bohr bug, Up:[1756]= B =


   boink /boynk/


   [Usenet: variously ascribed to the TV series "Cheers" "Moonlighting",

   and "Soap"] 1. v. To have sex with; compare [1757]bounce, sense 3.

   (This is mainstream slang.) In Commonwealth hackish the variant `bonk'

   is more common. 2. n. After the original Peter Korn `Boinkon'

   [1758]Usenet parties, used for almost any net social gathering, e.g.,

   Miniboink, a small boink held by Nancy Gillett in 1988; Minniboink, a

   Boinkcon in Minnesota in 1989; Humpdayboinks, Wednesday get-togethers

   held in the San Francisco Bay Area. Compare [1759]@-party. 3. Var of

   `bonk'; see [1760]bonk/oif.



   Node:bomb, Next:[1761]bondage-and-discipline language,

   Previous:[1762]boink, Up:[1763]= B =




   1. v. General synonym for [1764]crash (sense 1) except that it is not

   used as a noun; esp. used of software or OS failures. "Don't run

   Empire with less than 32K stack, it'll bomb." 2. n.,v. Atari ST and

   Macintosh equivalents of a Unix `panic' or Amiga [1765]guru

   meditation, in which icons of little black-powder bombs or mushroom

   clouds are displayed, indicating that the system has died. On the Mac,

   this may be accompanied by a decimal (or occasionally hexadecimal)

   number indicating what went wrong, similar to the Amiga [1766]guru

   meditation number. [1767]MS-DOS machines tend to get [1768]locked up

   in this situation.



   Node:bondage-and-discipline language, Next:[1769]bonk/oif,

   Previous:[1770]bomb, Up:[1771]= B =


   bondage-and-discipline language n.


   A language (such as [1772]Pascal, [1773]Ada, APL, or Prolog) that,

   though ostensibly general-purpose, is designed so as to enforce an

   author's theory of `right programming' even though said theory is

   demonstrably inadequate for systems hacking or even vanilla

   general-purpose programming. Often abbreviated `B&D'; thus, one may

   speak of things "having the B&D nature". See [1774]Pascal; oppose

   [1775]languages of choice.



   Node:bonk/oif, Next:[1776]book titles,

   Previous:[1777]bondage-and-discipline language, Up:[1778]= B =


   bonk/oif /bonk/, /oyf/ interj.


   In the U.S. [1779]MUD community, it has become traditional to express

   pique or censure by `bonking' the offending person. Convention holds

   that one should acknowledge a bonk by saying `oif!' and there is a

   myth to the effect that failing to do so upsets the cosmic bonk/oif

   balance, causing much trouble in the universe. Some MUDs have

   implemented special commands for bonking and oifing. Note: in parts of

   the U.K. `bonk' is a sexually loaded slang term; care is advised in

   transatlantic conversations (see [1780]boink). Commonwealth hackers

   report a similar convention involving the `fish/bang' balance. See

   also [1781]talk mode.



   Node:book titles, Next:[1782]boot, Previous:[1783]bonk/oif, Up:[1784]=

   B =


   book titles


   There is a tradition in hackerdom of informally tagging important

   textbooks and standards documents with the dominant color of their

   covers or with some other conspicuous feature of the cover. Many of

   these are described in this lexicon under their own entries. See

   [1785]Aluminum Book, [1786]Blue Book, [1787]Camel Book,

   [1788]Cinderella Book, [1789]Devil Book, [1790]Dragon Book,

   [1791]Green Book, [1792]Orange Book, [1793]Purple Book, [1794]Red

   Book, [1795]Silver Book, [1796]White Book, [1797]Wizard Book,

   [1798]Yellow Book, and [1799]bible; see also [1800]rainbow series.

   Since about 1983 this tradition has gotten a boost from the popular

   O'Reilly and Associates line of technical books, which usually feature

   some kind of exotic animal on the cover.



   Node:boot, Next:[1801]Borg, Previous:[1802]book titles, Up:[1803]= B =


   boot v.,n.


   [techspeak; from `by one's bootstraps'] To load and initialize the

   operating system on a machine. This usage is no longer jargon (having

   passed into techspeak) but has given rise to some derivatives that are

   still jargon.


   The derivative `reboot' implies that the machine hasn't been down for

   long, or that the boot is a [1804]bounce (sense 4) intended to clear

   some state of [1805]wedgitude. This is sometimes used of human thought

   processes, as in the following exchange: "You've lost me." "OK,

   reboot. Here's the theory...."


   This term is also found in the variants `cold boot' (from power-off

   condition) and `warm boot' (with the CPU and all devices already

   powered up, as after a hardware reset or software crash).


   Another variant: `soft boot', reinitialization of only part of a

   system, under control of other software still running: "If you're

   running the [1806]mess-dos emulator, control-alt-insert will cause a

   soft-boot of the emulator, while leaving the rest of the system



   Opposed to this there is `hard boot', which connotes hostility towards

   or frustration with the machine being booted: "I'll have to hard-boot

   this losing Sun." "I recommend booting it hard." One often hard-boots

   by performing a [1807]power cycle.


   Historical note: this term derives from `bootstrap loader', a short

   program that was read in from cards or paper tape, or toggled in from

   the front panel switches. This program was always very short (great

   efforts were expended on making it short in order to minimize the

   labor and chance of error involved in toggling it in), but was just

   smart enough to read in a slightly more complex program (usually from

   a card or paper tape reader), to which it handed control; this program

   in turn was smart enough to read the application or operating system

   from a magnetic tape drive or disk drive. Thus, in successive steps,

   the computer `pulled itself up by its bootstraps' to a useful

   operating state. Nowadays the bootstrap is usually found in ROM or

   EPROM, and reads the first stage in from a fixed location on the disk,

   called the `boot block'. When this program gains control, it is

   powerful enough to load the actual OS and hand control over to it.



   Node:Borg, Next:[1808]borken, Previous:[1809]boot, Up:[1810]= B =


   Borg n.


   In "Star Trek: The Next Generation" the Borg is a species of cyborg

   that ruthlessly seeks to incorporate all sentient life into itself;

   their slogan is "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." In

   hacker parlance, the Borg is usually [1811]Microsoft, which is thought

   to be trying just as ruthlessly to assimilate all computers and the

   entire Internet to itself (there is a widely circulated image of Bill

   Gates as a Borg). Being forced to use Windows or NT is often referred

   to as being "Borged". Interestingly, the [1812]Halloween Documents

   reveal that this jargon is live within Microsoft itself. (Other

   companies, notably Intel and UUNet, have also occasionally been

   equated to the Borg.) See also [1813]Evil Empire, [1814]Internet



   In IETF circles, where direct pressure from Microsoft is not a daily

   reality, the Borg is sometimes Cisco. This usage commemmorates their

   tendency to pay any price to hire talent away from their competitors.

   In fact, at the Spring 1997 IETF, a large number of ex-Cisco

   employees, all former members of Routing Geeks, showed up with

   t-shirts printed with "Recovering Borg".



   Node:borken, Next:[1815]bot, Previous:[1816]Borg, Up:[1817]= B =


   borken adj.


   (also `borked') Common deliberate typo for `broken'.



   Node:bot, Next:[1818]bot spot, Previous:[1819]borken, Up:[1820]= B =


   bot n


   [common on IRC, MUD and among gamers; from `robot'] 1. An [1821]IRC or

   [1822]MUD user who is actually a program. On IRC, typically the robot

   provides some useful service. Examples are NickServ, which tries to

   prevent random users from adopting [1823]nicks already claimed by

   others, and MsgServ, which allows one to send asynchronous messages to

   be delivered when the recipient signs on. Also common are `annoybots',

   such as KissServ, which perform no useful function except to send cute

   messages to other people. Service bots are less common on MUDs; but

   some others, such as the `Julia' bot active in 1990-91, have been

   remarkably impressive Turing-test experiments, able to pass as human

   for as long as ten or fifteen minutes of conversation. 2. An

   AI-controlled player in a computer game (especially a first-person

   shooter such as Quake) which, unlike ordinary monsters, operates like

   a human-controlled player, with access to a player's weapons and

   abilities. An example can be found at

   [1824] 3. Term used, though less

   commonly, for a web [1825]spider. The file for controlling spider

   behavior on your site is officially the "Robots Exclusion File" and

   its URL is "http://<somehost>/robots.txt")


   Note that bots in all senses were `robots' when the terms first

   appeared in the early 1990s, but the shortened form is now habitual.



   Node:bot spot, Next:[1826]bottom feeder, Previous:[1827]bot,

   Up:[1828]= B =


   bot spot n.


   [MUD] The user on a MUD with the longest connect time. Derives from

   the fact that [1829]bots on MUDS often stay constantly connected and

   appear at the bottom of the list.



   Node:bottom feeder, Next:[1830]bottom-up implementation,

   Previous:[1831]bot spot, Up:[1832]= B =


   bottom feeder n.


   1. An Internet user that leeches off ISPs - the sort you can never

   provide good enough services for, always complains about the price, no

   matter how low it may be, and will bolt off to another service the

   moment there is even the slimmest price difference. While most bottom

   feeders infest free or almost free services such as AOL, MSN, and

   Hotmail, too many flock to whomever happens to be the cheapest

   regional ISP at the time. Bottom feeders are often the classic problem

   user, known for unleashing spam, flamage, and other breaches of

   [1833]netiquette. 2. Syn. for [1834]slopsucker, derived from the

   fishermen's and naturalists' term for finny creatures who subsist on

   the primordial ooze. (This sense is older.)



   Node:bottom-up implementation, Next:[1835]bounce,

   Previous:[1836]bottom feeder, Up:[1837]= B =


   bottom-up implementation n.


   Hackish opposite of the techspeak term `top-down design'. It has been

   received wisdom in most programming cultures that it is best to design

   from higher levels of abstraction down to lower, specifying sequences

   of action in increasing detail until you get to actual code. Hackers

   often find (especially in exploratory designs that cannot be closely

   specified in advance) that it works best to build things in the

   opposite order, by writing and testing a clean set of primitive

   operations and then knitting them together. Naively applied, this

   leads to hacked-together bottom-up implementations; a more

   sophisticated response is `middle-out implementation', in which

   scratch code within primitives at the mid-level of the system is

   gradually replaced with a more polished version of the lowest level at

   the same time the structure above the midlevel is being built.



   Node:bounce, Next:[1838]bounce message, Previous:[1839]bottom-up

   implementation, Up:[1840]= B =


   bounce v.


   1. [common; perhaps by analogy to a bouncing check] An electronic mail

   message that is undeliverable and returns an error notification to the

   sender is said to `bounce'. See also [1841]bounce message. 2.

   [Stanford] To play volleyball. The now-demolished [1842]D. C. Power

   Lab building used by the Stanford AI Lab in the 1970s had a volleyball

   court on the front lawn. From 5 P.M. to 7 P.M. was the scheduled

   maintenance time for the computer, so every afternoon at 5 would come

   over the intercom the cry: "Now hear this: bounce, bounce!", followed

   by Brian McCune loudly bouncing a volleyball on the floor outside the

   offices of known volleyballers. 3. To engage in sexual intercourse;

   prob. from the expression `bouncing the mattress', but influenced by

   Roo's psychosexually loaded "Try bouncing me, Tigger!" from the

   "Winnie-the-Pooh" books. Compare [1843]boink. 4. To casually reboot a

   system in order to clear up a transient problem. Reported primarily

   among [1844]VMS and [1845]Unix users. 5. [VM/CMS programmers]

   Automatic warm-start of a machine after an error. "I logged on this

   morning and found it had bounced 7 times during the night" 6. [IBM] To

   [1846]power cycle a peripheral in order to reset it.



   Node:bounce message, Next:[1847]boustrophedon, Previous:[1848]bounce,

   Up:[1849]= B =


   bounce message n.


   [common] Notification message returned to sender by a site unable to

   relay [1850]email to the intended [1851]Internet address recipient or

   the next link in a [1852]bang path (see [1853]bounce, sense 1).

   Reasons might include a nonexistent or misspelled username or a

   [1854]down relay site. Bounce messages can themselves fail, with

   occasionally ugly results; see [1855]sorcerer's apprentice mode and

   [1856]software laser. The terms `bounce mail' and `barfmail' are also




   Node:boustrophedon, Next:[1857]box, Previous:[1858]bounce message,

   Up:[1859]= B =


   boustrophedon n.


   [from a Greek word for turning like an ox while plowing] An ancient

   method of writing using alternate left-to-right and right-to-left

   lines. This term is actually philologists' techspeak and typesetters'

   jargon. Erudite hackers use it for an optimization performed by some

   computer typesetting software and moving-head printers. The adverbial

   form `boustrophedonically' is also found (hackers purely love

   constructions like this).



   Node:box, Next:[1860]boxed comments, Previous:[1861]boustrophedon,

   Up:[1862]= B =


   box n.


   1. A computer; esp. in the construction `foo box' where foo is some

   functional qualifier, like `graphics', or the name of an OS (thus,

   `Unix box', `MS-DOS box', etc.) "We preprocess the data on Unix boxes

   before handing it up to the mainframe." 2. [IBM] Without qualification

   but within an SNA-using site, this refers specifically to an IBM

   front-end processor or FEP /F-E-P/. An FEP is a small computer

   necessary to enable an IBM [1863]mainframe to communicate beyond the

   limits of the [1864]dinosaur pen. Typically used in expressions like

   the cry that goes up when an SNA network goes down: "Looks like the

   [1865]box has fallen over." (See [1866]fall over.) See also [1867]IBM,

   [1868]fear and loathing, [1869]Blue Glue.



   Node:boxed comments, Next:[1870]boxen, Previous:[1871]box, Up:[1872]=

   B =


   boxed comments n.


   Comments (explanatory notes attached to program instructions) that

   occupy several lines by themselves; so called because in assembler and

   C code they are often surrounded by a box in a style something like





 * This is a boxed comment in C style



   Common variants of this style omit the asterisks in column 2 or add a

   matching row of asterisks closing the right side of the box. The

   sparest variant omits all but the comment delimiters themselves; the

   `box' is implied. Oppose [1873]winged comments.



   Node:boxen, Next:[1874]boxology, Previous:[1875]boxed comments,

   Up:[1876]= B =


   boxen /bok'sn/ pl.n.


   [very common; by analogy with [1877]VAXen] Fanciful plural of

   [1878]box often encountered in the phrase `Unix boxen', used to

   describe commodity [1879]Unix hardware. The connotation is that any

   two Unix boxen are interchangeable.



   Node:boxology, Next:[1880]bozotic, Previous:[1881]boxen, Up:[1882]= B



   boxology /bok-sol'*-jee/ n.


   Syn. [1883]ASCII art. This term implies a more restricted domain, that

   of box-and-arrow drawings. "His report has a lot of boxology in it."

   Compare [1884]macrology.



   Node:bozotic, Next:[1885]BQS, Previous:[1886]boxology, Up:[1887]= B =


   bozotic /boh-zoh'tik/ or /boh-zo'tik/ adj.


   [from the name of a TV clown even more losing than Ronald McDonald]

   Resembling or having the quality of a bozo; that is, clownish,

   ludicrously wrong, unintentionally humorous. Compare [1888]wonky,

   [1889]demented. Note that the noun `bozo' occurs in slang, but the

   mainstream adjectival form would be `bozo-like' or (in New England)




   Node:BQS, Next:[1890]brain dump, Previous:[1891]bozotic, Up:[1892]= B



   BQS /B-Q-S/ adj.


   Syn. [1893]Berkeley Quality Software.



   Node:brain dump, Next:[1894]brain fart, Previous:[1895]BQS, Up:[1896]=

   B =


   brain dump n.


   [common] The act of telling someone everything one knows about a

   particular topic or project. Typically used when someone is going to

   let a new party maintain a piece of code. Conceptually analogous to an

   operating system [1897]core dump in that it saves a lot of useful

   [1898]state before an exit. "You'll have to give me a brain dump on

   FOOBAR before you start your new job at HackerCorp." See [1899]core

   dump (sense 4). At Sun, this is also known as `TOI' (transfer of




   Node:brain fart, Next:[1900]brain-damaged, Previous:[1901]brain dump,

   Up:[1902]= B =


   brain fart n.


   The actual result of a [1903]braino, as opposed to the mental glitch

   that is the braino itself. E.g., typing dir on a Unix box after a

   session with DOS.



   Node:brain-damaged, Next:[1904]brain-dead, Previous:[1905]brain fart,

   Up:[1906]= B =


   brain-damaged adj.


   1. [common; generalization of `Honeywell Brain Damage' (HBD), a

   theoretical disease invented to explain certain utter cretinisms in

   Honeywell [1907]Multics] adj. Obviously wrong; [1908]cretinous;

   [1909]demented. There is an implication that the person responsible

   must have suffered brain damage, because he should have known better.

   Calling something brain-damaged is really bad; it also implies it is

   unusable, and that its failure to work is due to poor design rather

   than some accident. "Only six monocase characters per file name? Now

   that's brain-damaged!" 2. [esp. in the Mac world] May refer to free

   demonstration software that has been deliberately crippled in some way

   so as not to compete with the product it is intended to sell. Syn.




   Node:brain-dead, Next:[1911]braino, Previous:[1912]brain-damaged,

   Up:[1913]= B =


   brain-dead adj.


   [common] Brain-damaged in the extreme. It tends to imply terminal

   design failure rather than malfunction or simple stupidity. "This comm

   program doesn't know how to send a break -- how brain-dead!"



   Node:braino, Next:[1914]branch to Fishkill, Previous:[1915]brain-dead,

   Up:[1916]= B =


   braino /bray'no/ n.


   Syn. for [1917]thinko. See also [1918]brain fart.



   Node:branch to Fishkill, Next:[1919]bread crumbs,

   Previous:[1920]braino, Up:[1921]= B =


   branch to Fishkill n.


   [IBM: from the location of one of the corporation's facilities] Any

   unexpected jump in a program that produces catastrophic or just plain

   weird results. See [1922]jump off into never-never land,




   Node:bread crumbs, Next:[1924]break, Previous:[1925]branch to

   Fishkill, Up:[1926]= B =


   bread crumbs n.


   1. Debugging statements inserted into a program that emit output or

   log indicators of the program's [1927]state to a file so you can see

   where it dies or pin down the cause of surprising behavior. The term

   is probably a reference to the Hansel and Gretel story from the

   Brothers Grimm or the older French folktale of Thumbelina; in several

   variants of these, a character leaves a trail of bread crumbs so as

   not to get lost in the woods. 2. In user-interface design, any feature

   that allows some tracking of where you've been, like coloring visited

   links purple rather than blue in Netscape (also called `footrinting').



   Node:break, Next:[1928]break-even point, Previous:[1929]bread crumbs,

   Up:[1930]= B =




   1. vt. To cause to be [1931]broken (in any sense). "Your latest patch

   to the editor broke the paragraph commands." 2. v. (of a program) To

   stop temporarily, so that it may debugged. The place where it stops is

   a `breakpoint'. 3. [techspeak] vi. To send an RS-232 break (two

   character widths of line high) over a serial comm line. 4. [Unix] vi.

   To strike whatever key currently causes the tty driver to send SIGINT

   to the current process. Normally, break (sense 3), delete or

   [1932]control-C does this. 5. `break break' may be said to interrupt a

   conversation (this is an example of verb doubling). This usage comes

   from radio communications, which in turn probably came from landline

   telegraph/teleprinter usage, as badly abused in the Citizen's Band

   craze a few years ago.



   Node:break-even point, Next:[1933]breath-of-life packet,

   Previous:[1934]break, Up:[1935]= B =


   break-even point n.


   In the process of implementing a new computer language, the point at

   which the language is sufficiently effective that one can implement

   the language in itself. That is, for a new language called,

   hypothetically, FOOGOL, one has reached break-even when one can write

   a demonstration compiler for FOOGOL in FOOGOL, discard the original

   implementation language, and thereafter use working versions of FOOGOL

   to develop newer ones. This is an important milestone; see [1936]MFTL.


   Since this entry was first written, several correspondents have

   reported that there actually was a compiler for a tiny Algol-like

   language called Foogol floating around on various [1937]VAXen in the

   early and mid-1980s. A FOOGOL implementation is available at the

   Retrocomputing Museum [1938]



   Node:breath-of-life packet, Next:[1939]breedle,

   Previous:[1940]break-even point, Up:[1941]= B =


   breath-of-life packet n.


   [XEROX PARC] An Ethernet packet that contains bootstrap (see

   [1942]boot) code, periodically sent out from a working computer to

   infuse the `breath of life' into any computer on the network that has

   happened to crash. Machines depending on such packets have sufficient

   hardware or firmware code to wait for (or request) such a packet

   during the reboot process. See also [1943]dickless workstation.


   The notional `kiss-of-death packet', with a function complementary to

   that of a breath-of-life packet, is recommended for dealing with hosts

   that consume too many network resources. Though `kiss-of-death packet'

   is usually used in jest, there is at least one documented instance of

   an Internet subnet with limited address-table slots in a gateway

   machine in which such packets were routinely used to compete for

   slots, rather like Christmas shoppers competing for scarce parking




   Node:breedle, Next:[1944]Breidbart Index,

   Previous:[1945]breath-of-life packet, Up:[1946]= B =


   breedle n.


   See [1947]feep.



   Node:Breidbart Index, Next:[1948]bring X to its knees,

   Previous:[1949]breedle, Up:[1950]= B =


   Breidbart Index /bri:d'bart ind*ks/


   A measurement of the severity of spam invented by long-time hacker

   Seth Breidbart, used for programming cancelbots. The Breidbart Index

   takes into account the fact that excessive multi-posting [1951]EMP is

   worse than excessive cross-posting [1952]ECP. The Breidbart Index is

   computed as follows: For each article in a spam, take the square-root

   of the number of newsgroups to which the article is posted. The

   Breidbart Index is the sum of the square roots of all of the posts in

   the spam. For example, one article posted to nine newsgroups and again

   to sixteen would have BI = sqrt(9) + sqrt(16) = 7. It is generally

   agreed that a spam is cancelable if the Breidbart Index exceeds 20.


   The Breidbart Index accumulates over a 45-day window. Ten articles

   yesterday and ten articles today and ten articles tomorrow add up to a

   30-article spam. Spam fighters will often reset the count if you can

   convince them that the spam was accidental and/or you have seen the

   error of your ways and won't repeat it. Breidbart Index can accumulate

   over multiple authors. For example, the "Make Money Fast" pyramid

   scheme exceeded a BI of 20 a long time ago, and is now considered

   "cancel on sight".



   Node:bring X to its knees, Next:[1953]brittle,

   Previous:[1954]Breidbart Index, Up:[1955]= B =


   bring X to its knees v.


   [common] To present a machine, operating system, piece of software, or

   algorithm with a load so extreme or [1956]pathological that it grinds

   to a halt. "To bring a MicroVAX to its knees, try twenty users running

   [1957]vi -- or four running [1958]EMACS." Compare [1959]hog.



   Node:brittle, Next:[1960]broadcast storm, Previous:[1961]bring X to

   its knees, Up:[1962]= B =


   brittle adj.


   Said of software that is functional but easily broken by changes in

   operating environment or configuration, or by any minor tweak to the

   software itself. Also, any system that responds inappropriately and

   disastrously to abnormal but expected external stimuli; e.g., a file

   system that is usually totally scrambled by a power failure is said to

   be brittle. This term is often used to describe the results of a

   research effort that were never intended to be robust, but it can be

   applied to commercial software, which (due to closed-source

   development) displays the quality far more often than it ought to.

   Oppose [1963]robust.



   Node:broadcast storm, Next:[1964]brochureware, Previous:[1965]brittle,

   Up:[1966]= B =


   broadcast storm n.


   [common] An incorrect packet broadcast on a network that causes most

   hosts to respond all at once, typically with wrong answers that start

   the process over again. See [1967]network meltdown; compare [1968]mail




   Node:brochureware, Next:[1969]broken, Previous:[1970]broadcast storm,

   Up:[1971]= B =


   brochureware n.


   Planned but non-existent product like [1972]vaporware, but with the

   added implication that marketing is actively selling and promoting it

   (they've printed brochures). Brochureware is often deployed as a

   strategic weapon; the idea is to con customers into not committing to

   an existing product of the competition's. It is a safe bet that when a

   brochureware product finally becomes real, it will be more expensive

   than and inferior to the alternatives that had been available for




   Node:broken, Next:[1973]broken arrow, Previous:[1974]brochureware,

   Up:[1975]= B =


   broken adj.


   1. Not working properly (of programs). 2. Behaving strangely;

   especially (when used of people) exhibiting extreme depression.



   Node:broken arrow, Next:[1976]BrokenWindows, Previous:[1977]broken,

   Up:[1978]= B =


   broken arrow n.


   [IBM] The error code displayed on line 25 of a 3270 terminal (or a PC

   emulating a 3270) for various kinds of protocol violations and

   "unexpected" error conditions (including connection to a [1979]down

   computer). On a PC, simulated with `->/_', with the two center

   characters overstruck.


   Note: to appreciate this term fully, it helps to know that `broken

   arrow' is also military jargon for an accident involving nuclear




   Node:BrokenWindows, Next:[1980]broket, Previous:[1981]broken arrow,

   Up:[1982]= B =


   BrokenWindows n.


   Abusive hackerism for the [1983]crufty and [1984]elephantine [1985]X

   environment on Sun machines; properly called `OpenWindows'.



   Node:broket, Next:[1986]Brooks's Law, Previous:[1987]BrokenWindows,

   Up:[1988]= B =


   broket /broh'k*t/ or /broh'ket`/ n.


   [rare; by analogy with `bracket': a `broken bracket'] Either of the

   characters < and >, when used as paired enclosing delimiters. This

   word originated as a contraction of the phrase `broken bracket', that

   is, a bracket that is bent in the middle. (At MIT, and apparently in

   the [1989]Real World as well, these are usually called [1990]angle




   Node:Brooks's Law, Next:[1991]brown-paper-bag bug,

   Previous:[1992]broket, Up:[1993]= B =


   Brooks's Law prov.


   "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later" -- a

   result of the fact that the expected advantage from splitting

   development work among N programmers is O(N) (that is, proportional to

   N), but the complexity and communications cost associated with

   coordinating and then merging their work is O(N^2) (that is,

   proportional to the square of N). The quote is from Fred Brooks, a

   manager of IBM's OS/360 project and author of "The Mythical Man-Month"

   (Addison-Wesley, 1975, ISBN 0-201-00650-2), an excellent early book on

   software engineering. The myth in question has been most tersely

   expressed as "Programmer time is fungible" and Brooks established

   conclusively that it is not. Hackers have never forgotten his advice

   (though it's not the whole story; see [1994]bazaar); too often,

   [1995]management still does. See also [1996]creationism,

   [1997]second-system effect, [1998]optimism.



   Node:brown-paper-bag bug, Next:[1999]browser, Previous:[2000]Brooks's

   Law, Up:[2001]= B =


   brown-paper-bag bug n.


   A bug in a public software release that is so embarrassing that the

   author notionally wears a brown paper bag over his head for a while so

   he won't be recognized on the net. Entered popular usage after the

   early-1999 release of the first Linux 2.2, which had one. The phrase

   was used in Linus Torvalds's apology posting.



   Node:browser, Next:[2002]BRS, Previous:[2003]brown-paper-bag bug,

   Up:[2004]= B =


   browser n.


   A program specifically designed to help users view and navigate

   hypertext, on-line documentation, or a database. While this general

   sense has been present in jargon for a long time, the proliferation of

   browsers for the World Wide Web after 1992 has made it much more

   popular and provided a central or default techspeak meaning of the

   word previously lacking in hacker usage. Nowadays, if someone mentions

   using a `browser' without qualification, one may assume it is a Web




   Node:BRS, Next:[2005]brute force, Previous:[2006]browser, Up:[2007]= B



   BRS /B-R-S/ n.


   Syn. [2008]Big Red Switch. This abbreviation is fairly common on-line.



   Node:brute force, Next:[2009]brute force and ignorance,

   Previous:[2010]BRS, Up:[2011]= B =


   brute force adj.


   Describes a primitive programming style, one in which the programmer

   relies on the computer's processing power instead of using his or her

   own intelligence to simplify the problem, often ignoring problems of

   scale and applying naive methods suited to small problems directly to

   large ones. The term can also be used in reference to programming

   style: brute-force programs are written in a heavyhanded, tedious way,

   full of repetition and devoid of any elegance or useful abstraction

   (see also [2012]brute force and ignorance).


   The [2013]canonical example of a brute-force algorithm is associated

   with the `traveling salesman problem' (TSP), a classical [2014]NP-hard

   problem: Suppose a person is in, say, Boston, and wishes to drive to N

   other cities. In what order should the cities be visited in order to

   minimize the distance travelled? The brute-force method is to simply

   generate all possible routes and compare the distances; while

   guaranteed to work and simple to implement, this algorithm is clearly

   very stupid in that it considers even obviously absurd routes (like

   going from Boston to Houston via San Francisco and New York, in that

   order). For very small N it works well, but it rapidly becomes

   absurdly inefficient when N increases (for N = 15, there are already

   1,307,674,368,000 possible routes to consider, and for N = 1000 --

   well, see [2015]bignum). Sometimes, unfortunately, there is no better

   general solution than brute force. See also [2016]NP-.


   A more simple-minded example of brute-force programming is finding the

   smallest number in a large list by first using an existing program to

   sort the list in ascending order, and then picking the first number

   off the front.


   Whether brute-force programming should actually be considered stupid

   or not depends on the context; if the problem is not terribly big, the

   extra CPU time spent on a brute-force solution may cost less than the

   programmer time it would take to develop a more `intelligent'

   algorithm. Additionally, a more intelligent algorithm may imply more

   long-term complexity cost and bug-chasing than are justified by the

   speed improvement.


   Ken Thompson, co-inventor of Unix, is reported to have uttered the

   epigram "When in doubt, use brute force". He probably intended this as

   a [2017]ha ha only serious, but the original Unix kernel's preference

   for simple, robust, and portable algorithms over [2018]brittle `smart'

   ones does seem to have been a significant factor in the success of

   that OS. Like so many other tradeoffs in software design, the choice

   between brute force and complex, finely-tuned cleverness is often a

   difficult one that requires both engineering savvy and delicate

   esthetic judgment.



   Node:brute force and ignorance, Next:[2019]BSD, Previous:[2020]brute

   force, Up:[2021]= B =


   brute force and ignorance n.


   A popular design technique at many software houses -- [2022]brute

   force coding unrelieved by any knowledge of how problems have been

   previously solved in elegant ways. Dogmatic adherence to design

   methodologies tends to encourage this sort of thing. Characteristic of

   early [2023]larval stage programming; unfortunately, many never

   outgrow it. Often abbreviated BFI: "Gak, they used a [2024]bubble

   sort! That's strictly from BFI." Compare [2025]bogosity.



   Node:BSD, Next:[2026]BSOD, Previous:[2027]brute force and ignorance,

   Up:[2028]= B =


   BSD /B-S-D/ n.


   [abbreviation for `Berkeley Software Distribution'] a family of

   [2029]Unix versions for the [2030]DEC [2031]VAX and PDP-11 developed

   by Bill Joy and others at [2032]Berzerkeley starting around 1977,

   incorporating paged virtual memory, TCP/IP networking enhancements,

   and many other features. The BSD versions (4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) and the

   commercial versions derived from them (SunOS, ULTRIX, and Mt. Xinu)

   held the technical lead in the Unix world until AT&T's successful

   standardization efforts after about 1986; descendants including

   Free/Open/NetBSD, BSD/OS and MacOS X are still widely popular. Note

   that BSD versions going back to 2.9 are often referred to by their

   version numbers alone, without the BSD prefix. See [2033]4.2,

   [2034]Unix, [2035]USG Unix.



   Node:BSOD, Next:[2036]BUAF, Previous:[2037]BSD, Up:[2038]= B =


   BSOD /B-S-O-D/


   Very commmon abbreviation for [2039]Blue Screen of Death. Both spoken

   and written.



   Node:BUAF, Next:[2040]BUAG, Previous:[2041]BSOD, Up:[2042]= B =


   BUAF // n.


   [abbreviation, from] Big Ugly ASCII Font -- a special

   form of [2043]ASCII art. Various programs exist for rendering text

   strings into block, bloob, and pseudo-script fonts in cells between

   four and six character cells on a side; this is smaller than the

   letters generated by older [2044]banner (sense 2) programs. These are

   sometimes used to render one's name in a [2045]sig block, and are

   critically referred to as `BUAF's. See [2046]warlording.



   Node:BUAG, Next:[2047]bubble sort, Previous:[2048]BUAF, Up:[2049]= B =


   BUAG // n.


   [abbreviation, from] Big Ugly ASCII Graphic.

   Pejorative term for ugly [2050]ASCII art, especially as found in

   [2051]sig blocks. For some reason, mutations of the head of Bart

   Simpson are particularly common in the least imaginative [2052]sig

   blocks. See [2053]warlording.



   Node:bubble sort, Next:[2054]bucky bits, Previous:[2055]BUAG,

   Up:[2056]= B =


   bubble sort n.


   Techspeak for a particular sorting technique in which pairs of

   adjacent values in the list to be sorted are compared and interchanged

   if they are out of order; thus, list entries `bubble upward' in the

   list until they bump into one with a lower sort value. Because it is

   not very good relative to other methods and is the one typically

   stumbled on by [2057]naive and untutored programmers, hackers consider

   it the [2058]canonical example of a naive algorithm. (However, it's

   been shown by repeated experiment that below about 5000 records

   bubble-sort is OK anyway.) The canonical example of a really bad

   algorithm is [2059]bogo-sort. A bubble sort might be used out of

   ignorance, but any use of bogo-sort could issue only from brain damage

   or willful perversity.



   Node:bucky bits, Next:[2060]buffer chuck, Previous:[2061]bubble sort,

   Up:[2062]= B =


   bucky bits /buh'kee bits/ n.


   1. obs. The bits produced by the CONTROL and META shift keys on a SAIL

   keyboard (octal 200 and 400 respectively), resulting in a 9-bit

   keyboard character set. The MIT AI TV (Knight) keyboards extended this

   with TOP and separate left and right CONTROL and META keys, resulting

   in a 12-bit character set; later, LISP Machines added such keys as

   SUPER, HYPER, and GREEK (see [2063]space-cadet keyboard). 2. By

   extension, bits associated with `extra' shift keys on any keyboard,

   e.g., the ALT on an IBM PC or command and option keys on a Macintosh.


   It has long been rumored that `bucky bits' were named for Buckminster

   Fuller during a period when he was consulting at Stanford. Actually,

   bucky bits were invented by Niklaus Wirth when he was at Stanford in

   1964-65; he first suggested the idea of an EDIT key to set the 8th bit

   of an otherwise 7-bit ASCII character). It seems that, unknown to

   Wirth, certain Stanford hackers had privately nicknamed him `Bucky'

   after a prominent portion of his dental anatomy, and this nickname

   transferred to the bit. Bucky-bit commands were used in a number of

   editors written at Stanford, including most notably TV-EDIT and NLS.


   The term spread to MIT and CMU early and is now in general use.

   Ironically, Wirth himself remained unaware of its derivation for

   nearly 30 years, until GLS dug up this history in early 1993! See

   [2064]double bucky, [2065]quadruple bucky.



   Node:buffer chuck, Next:[2066]buffer overflow, Previous:[2067]bucky

   bits, Up:[2068]= B =


   buffer chuck n.


   Shorter and ruder syn. for [2069]buffer overflow.



   Node:buffer overflow, Next:[2070]bug, Previous:[2071]buffer chuck,

   Up:[2072]= B =


   buffer overflow n.


   What happens when you try to stuff more data into a buffer (holding

   area) than it can handle. This problem is commonly exploited by

   [2073]crackers to get arbitrary commands executed by a program running

   with root permissions. This may be due to a mismatch in the processing

   rates of the producing and consuming processes (see [2074]overrun and

   [2075]firehose syndrome), or because the buffer is simply too small to

   hold all the data that must accumulate before a piece of it can be

   processed. For example, in a text-processing tool that [2076]crunches

   a line at a time, a short line buffer can result in [2077]lossage as

   input from a long line overflows the buffer and trashes data beyond

   it. Good defensive programming would check for overflow on each

   character and stop accepting data when the buffer is full up. The term

   is used of and by humans in a metaphorical sense. "What time did I

   agree to meet you? My buffer must have overflowed." Or "If I answer

   that phone my buffer is going to overflow." See also [2078]spam,

   [2079]overrun screw.



   Node:bug, Next:[2080]bug-compatible, Previous:[2081]buffer overflow,

   Up:[2082]= B =


   bug n.


   An unwanted and unintended property of a program or piece of hardware,

   esp. one that causes it to malfunction. Antonym of [2083]feature.

   Examples: "There's a bug in the editor: it writes things out

   backwards." "The system crashed because of a hardware bug." "Fred is a

   winner, but he has a few bugs" (i.e., Fred is a good guy, but he has a

   few personality problems).


   Historical note: Admiral Grace Hopper (an early computing pioneer

   better known for inventing [2084]COBOL) liked to tell a story in which

   a technician solved a [2085]glitch in the Harvard Mark II machine by

   pulling an actual insect out from between the contacts of one of its

   relays, and she subsequently promulgated [2086]bug in its hackish

   sense as a joke about the incident (though, as she was careful to

   admit, she was not there when it happened). For many years the logbook

   associated with the incident and the actual bug in question (a moth)

   sat in a display case at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC). The

   entire story, with a picture of the logbook and the moth taped into

   it, is recorded in the "Annals of the History of Computing", Vol. 3,

   No. 3 (July 1981), pp. 285-286.


   The text of the log entry (from September 9, 1947), reads "1545 Relay

   #70 Panel F (moth) in relay. First actual case of bug being found".

   This wording establishes that the term was already in use at the time

   in its current specific sense -- and Hopper herself reports that the

   term `bug' was regularly applied to problems in radar electronics

   during WWII.


   Indeed, the use of `bug' to mean an industrial defect was already

   established in Thomas Edison's time, and a more specific and rather

   modern use can be found in an electrical handbook from 1896 ("Hawkin's

   New Catechism of Electricity", Theo. Audel & Co.) which says: "The

   term `bug' is used to a limited extent to designate any fault or

   trouble in the connections or working of electric apparatus." It

   further notes that the term is "said to have originated in quadruplex

   telegraphy and have been transferred to all electric apparatus."


   The latter observation may explain a common folk etymology of the

   term; that it came from telephone company usage, in which "bugs in a

   telephone cable" were blamed for noisy lines. Though this derivation

   seems to be mistaken, it may well be a distorted memory of a joke

   first current among telegraph operators more than a century ago!


   Or perhaps not a joke. Historians of the field inform us that the term

   "bug" was regularly used in the early days of telegraphy to refer to a

   variety of semi-automatic telegraphy keyers that would send a string

   of dots if you held them down. In fact, the Vibroplex keyers (which

   were among the most common of this type) even had a graphic of a

   beetle on them (and still do)! While the ability to send repeated dots

   automatically was very useful for professional morse code operators,

   these were also significantly trickier to use than the older manual

   keyers, and it could take some practice to ensure one didn't introduce

   extraneous dots into the code by holding the key down a fraction too

   long. In the hands of an inexperienced operator, a Vibroplex "bug" on

   the line could mean that a lot of garbled Morse would soon be coming

   your way.


   Further, the term "bug" has long been used among radio technicians to

   describe a device that converts electromagnetic field variations into

   acoustic signals. It is used to trace radio interference and look for

   dangerous radio emissions. Radio community usage derives from the

   roach-like shape of the first versions used by 19th century

   physicists. The first versions consisted of a coil of wire (roach

   body), with the two wire ends sticking out and bent back to nearly

   touch forming a spark gap (roach antennae). The bug is to the radio

   technician what the stethoscope is to the stereotype medical doctor.

   This sense is almost certainly ancestral to modern use of "bug" for a

   covert monitoring device, but may also have contributed to the use of

   "bug" for the effects of radio interference itself.


   Actually, use of `bug' in the general sense of a disruptive event goes

   back to Shakespeare! (Henry VI, part III - Act V, Scene II: King

   Edward: "So, lie thou there. Die thou; and die our fear; For Warwick

   was a bug that fear'd us all.") In the first edition of Samuel

   Johnson's dictionary one meaning of `bug' is "A frightful object; a

   walking spectre"; this is traced to `bugbear', a Welsh term for a

   variety of mythological monster which (to complete the circle) has

   recently been reintroduced into the popular lexicon through fantasy

   role-playing games.


   In any case, in jargon the word almost never refers to insects. Here

   is a plausible conversation that never actually happened:


   "There is a bug in this ant farm!"


   "What do you mean? I don't see any ants in it."


   "That's the bug."


   A careful discussion of the etymological issues can be found in a

   paper by Fred R. Shapiro, 1987, "Entomology of the Computer Bug:

   History and Folklore", American Speech 62(4):376-378.


   [There has been a widespread myth that the original bug was moved to

   the Smithsonian, and an earlier version of this entry so asserted. A

   correspondent who thought to check discovered that the bug was not

   there. While investigating this in late 1990, your editor discovered

   that the NSWC still had the bug, but had unsuccessfully tried to get

   the Smithsonian to accept it -- and that the present curator of their

   History of American Technology Museum didn't know this and agreed that

   it would make a worthwhile exhibit. It was moved to the Smithsonian in

   mid-1991, but due to space and money constraints was not actually

   exhibited years afterwards. Thus, the process of investigating the

   original-computer-bug bug fixed it in an entirely unexpected way, by

   making the myth true! --ESR]



   Node:bug-compatible, Next:[2087]bug-for-bug compatible,

   Previous:[2088]bug, Up:[2089]= B =


   bug-compatible adj.


   [common] Said of a design or revision that has been badly compromised

   by a requirement to be compatible with [2090]fossils or

   [2091]misfeatures in other programs or (esp.) previous releases of

   itself. "MS-DOS 2.0 used \ as a path separator to be bug-compatible

   with some cretin's choice of / as an option character in 1.0."



   Node:bug-for-bug compatible, Next:[2092]bug-of-the-month club,

   Previous:[2093]bug-compatible, Up:[2094]= B =


   bug-for-bug compatible n.


   Same as [2095]bug-compatible, with the additional implication that

   much tedious effort went into ensuring that each (known) bug was




   Node:bug-of-the-month club, Next:[2096]buglix,

   Previous:[2097]bug-for-bug compatible, Up:[2098]= B =


   bug-of-the-month club n.


   [from "book-of-the-month club", a time-honored mail-order-marketing

   technique in the U.S.] A mythical club which users of `sendmail(8)'

   (the UNIX mail daemon) belong to; this was coined on the Usenet

   newsgroup at a time when sendmail security holes,

   which allowed outside [2099]crackers access to the system, were being

   uncovered at an alarming rate, forcing sysadmins to update very often.

   Also, more completely, `fatal security bug-of-the-month club'. See

   also [2100]kernel-of-the-week club.



   Node:buglix, Next:[2101]bulletproof, Previous:[2102]bug-of-the-month

   club, Up:[2103]= B =


   buglix /buhg'liks/ n.


   [uncommon] Pejorative term referring to [2104]DEC's ULTRIX operating

   system in its earlier severely buggy versions. Still used to describe

   ULTRIX, but without nearly so much venom. Compare [2105]AIDX,

   [2106]HP-SUX, [2107]Nominal Semidestructor, [2108]Telerat,




   Node:bulletproof, Next:[2110]bullschildt, Previous:[2111]buglix,

   Up:[2112]= B =


   bulletproof adj.


   Used of an algorithm or implementation considered extremely

   [2113]robust; lossage-resistant; capable of correctly recovering from

   any imaginable exception condition -- a rare and valued quality.

   Implies that the programmer has thought of all possible errors, and

   added [2114]code to protect against each one. Thus, in some cases,

   this can imply code that is too heavyweight, due to excessive paranoia

   on the part of the programmer. Syn. [2115]armor-plated.



   Node:bullschildt, Next:[2116]bum, Previous:[2117]bulletproof,

   Up:[2118]= B =


   bullschildt /bul'shilt/ n.


   [comp.lang.c on USENET] A confident, but incorrect, statement about a

   programming language. This immortalizes a very bad book about [2119]C,

   Herbert Schildt's "C - The Complete Reference". One reviewer commented

   "The naive errors in this book would be embarassing even in a

   programming assignment turned in by a computer science college




   Node:bum, Next:[2120]bump, Previous:[2121]bullschildt, Up:[2122]= B =




   1. vt. To make highly efficient, either in time or space, often at the

   expense of clarity. "I managed to bum three more instructions out of

   that code." "I spent half the night bumming the interrupt code." In

   1996, this term and the practice it describes are semi-obsolete. In

   [2123]elder days, John McCarthy (inventor of [2124]LISP) used to

   compare some efficiency-obsessed hackers among his students to "ski

   bums"; thus, optimization became "program bumming", and eventually

   just "bumming". 2. To squeeze out excess; to remove something in order

   to improve whatever it was removed from (without changing function;

   this distinguishes the process from a [2125]featurectomy). 3. n. A

   small change to an algorithm, program, or hardware device to make it

   more efficient. "This hardware bum makes the jump instruction faster."

   Usage: now uncommon, largely superseded by v. [2126]tune (and n.

   [2127]tweak, [2128]hack), though none of these exactly capture sense

   2. All these uses are rare in Commonwealth hackish, because in the

   parent dialects of English the noun `bum' is a rude synonym for

   `buttocks' and the verb `bum' for buggery.



   Node:bump, Next:[2129]burble, Previous:[2130]bum, Up:[2131]= B =


   bump vt.


   Synonym for increment. Has the same meaning as C's ++ operator. Used

   esp. of counter variables, pointers, and index dummies in for, while,

   and do-while loops.



   Node:burble, Next:[2132]buried treasure, Previous:[2133]bump,

   Up:[2134]= B =


   burble v.


   [from Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"] Like [2135]flame, but connotes

   that the source is truly clueless and ineffectual (mere flamers can be

   competent). A term of deep contempt. "There's some guy on the phone

   burbling about how he got a DISK FULL error and it's all our comm

   software's fault." This is mainstream slang in some parts of England.



   Node:buried treasure, Next:[2136]burn-in period,

   Previous:[2137]burble, Up:[2138]= B =


   buried treasure n.


   A surprising piece of code found in some program. While usually not

   wrong, it tends to vary from [2139]crufty to [2140]bletcherous, and

   has lain undiscovered only because it was functionally correct,

   however horrible it is. Used sarcastically, because what is found is

   anything but treasure. Buried treasure almost always needs to be dug

   up and removed. "I just found that the scheduler sorts its queue using

   [2141]bubble sort! Buried treasure!"



   Node:burn-in period, Next:[2142]burst page, Previous:[2143]buried

   treasure, Up:[2144]= B =


   burn-in period n.


   1. A factory test designed to catch systems with [2145]marginal

   components before they get out the door; the theory is that burn-in

   will protect customers by outwaiting the steepest part of the

   [2146]bathtub curve (see [2147]infant mortality). 2. A period of

   indeterminate length in which a person using a computer is so

   intensely involved in his project that he forgets basic needs such as

   food, drink, sleep, etc. Warning: Excessive burn-in can lead to

   burn-out. See [2148]hack mode, [2149]larval stage.


   Historical note: the origin of "burn-in" (sense 1) is apparently the

   practice of setting a new-model airplane's brakes on fire, then

   extinguishing the fire, in order to make them hold better. This was

   done on the first version of the U.S. spy-plane, the U-2.



   Node:burst page, Next:[2150]busy-wait, Previous:[2151]burn-in period,

   Up:[2152]= B =


   burst page n.


   Syn. [2153]banner, sense 1.



   Node:busy-wait, Next:[2154]buzz, Previous:[2155]burst page, Up:[2156]=

   B =


   busy-wait vi.


   Used of human behavior, conveys that the subject is busy waiting for

   someone or something, intends to move instantly as soon as it shows

   up, and thus cannot do anything else at the moment. "Can't talk now,

   I'm busy-waiting till Bill gets off the phone."


   Technically, `busy-wait' means to wait on an event by [2157]spinning

   through a tight or timed-delay loop that polls for the event on each

   pass, as opposed to setting up an interrupt handler and continuing

   execution on another part of the task. In applications this is a

   wasteful technique, and best avoided on time-sharing systems where a

   busy-waiting program may [2158]hog the processor. However, it is often

   unavoidable in kernel programming. In the Linux world, kernel

   busy-waits are usually referred to as `spinlocks'.



   Node:buzz, Next:[2159]BWQ, Previous:[2160]busy-wait, Up:[2161]= B =


   buzz vi.


   1. Of a program, to run with no indication of progress and perhaps

   without guarantee of ever finishing; esp. said of programs thought to

   be executing tight loops of code. A program that is buzzing appears to

   be [2162]catatonic, but never gets out of catatonia, while a buzzing

   loop may eventually end of its own accord. "The program buzzes for

   about 10 seconds trying to sort all the names into order." See

   [2163]spin; see also [2164]grovel. 2. [ETA Systems] To test a wire or

   printed circuit trace for continuity, esp. by applying an AC rather

   than DC signal. Some wire faults will pass DC tests but fail an AC

   buzz test. 3. To process an array or list in sequence, doing the same

   thing to each element. "This loop buzzes through the tz array looking

   for a terminator type."



   Node:BWQ, Next:[2165]by hand, Previous:[2166]buzz, Up:[2167]= B =


   BWQ /B-W-Q/ n.


   [IBM: abbreviation, `Buzz Word Quotient'] The percentage of buzzwords

   in a speech or documents. Usually roughly proportional to

   [2168]bogosity. See [2169]TLA.



   Node:by hand, Next:[2170]byte, Previous:[2171]BWQ, Up:[2172]= B =


   by hand adv.


   [common] 1. Said of an operation (especially a repetitive, trivial,

   and/or tedious one) that ought to be performed automatically by the

   computer, but which a hacker instead has to step tediously through.

   "My mailer doesn't have a command to include the text of the message

   I'm replying to, so I have to do it by hand." This does not

   necessarily mean the speaker has to retype a copy of the message; it

   might refer to, say, dropping into a subshell from the mailer, making

   a copy of one's mailbox file, reading that into an editor, locating

   the top and bottom of the message in question, deleting the rest of

   the file, inserting `>' characters on each line, writing the file,

   leaving the editor, returning to the mailer, reading the file in, and

   later remembering to delete the file. Compare [2173]eyeball search. 2.

   By extension, writing code which does something in an explicit or

   low-level way for which a presupplied library routine ought to have

   been available. "This cretinous B-tree library doesn't supply a decent

   iterator, so I'm having to walk the trees by hand."



   Node:byte, Next:[2174]byte sex, Previous:[2175]by hand, Up:[2176]= B =


   byte /bi:t/ n.


   [techspeak] A unit of memory or data equal to the amount used to

   represent one character; on modern architectures this is usually 8

   bits, but may be 9 on 36-bit machines. Some older architectures used

   `byte' for quantities of 6 or 7 bits, and the PDP-10 supported `bytes'

   that were actually bitfields of 1 to 36 bits! These usages are now

   obsolete, and even 9-bit bytes have become rare in the general trend

   toward power-of-2 word sizes.


   Historical note: The term was coined by Werner Buchholz in 1956 during

   the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer; originally it was

   described as 1 to 6 bits (typical I/O equipment of the period used

   6-bit chunks of information). The move to an 8-bit byte happened in

   late 1956, and this size was later adopted and promulgated as a

   standard by the System/360. The word was coined by mutating the word

   `bite' so it would not be accidentally misspelled as [2177]bit. See

   also [2178]nybble.



   Node:byte sex, Next:[2179]bytesexual, Previous:[2180]byte, Up:[2181]=

   B =


   byte sex n.


   [common] The byte sex of hardware is [2182]big-endian or

   [2183]little-endian; see those entries.



   Node:bytesexual, Next:[2184]Bzzzt! Wrong., Previous:[2185]byte sex,

   Up:[2186]= B =


   bytesexual /bi:t`sek'shu-*l/ adj.


   [rare] Said of hardware, denotes willingness to compute or pass data

   in either [2187]big-endian or [2188]little-endian format (depending,

   presumably, on a [2189]mode bit somewhere). See also [2190]NUXI




   Node:Bzzzt! Wrong., Next:[2191]C, Previous:[2192]bytesexual,

   Up:[2193]= B =


   Bzzzt! Wrong. /bzt rong/ excl.


   [common; Usenet/Internet; punctuation varies] From a Robin Williams

   routine in the movie "Dead Poets Society" spoofing radio or TV quiz

   programs, such as Truth or Consequences, where an incorrect answer

   earns one a blast from the buzzer and condolences from the

   interlocutor. A way of expressing mock-rude disagreement, usually

   immediately following an included quote from another poster. The less

   abbreviated "*Bzzzzt*, wrong, but thank you for playing" is also

   common; capitalization and emphasis of the buzzer sound varies.



   Node:= C =, Next:[2194]= D =, Previous:[2195]= B =, Up:[2196]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= C =

     * [2197]C:

     * [2198]C Programmer's Disease:

     * [2199]C&C:

     * [2200]C++:

     * [2201]calculator:

     * [2202]Camel Book:

     * [2203]can:

     * [2204]can't happen:

     * [2205]cancelbot:

     * [2206]Cancelmoose[tm]:

     * [2207]candygrammar:

     * [2208]canonical:

     * [2209]card walloper:

     * [2210]careware:

     * [2211]cargo cult programming:

     * [2212]cascade:

     * [2213]case and paste:

     * [2214]casters-up mode:

     * [2215]casting the runes:

     * [2216]cat:

     * [2217]catatonic:

     * [2218]cathedral:

     * [2219]cd tilde:

     * [2220]CDA:

     * [2221]cdr:

     * [2222]chad:

     * [2223]chad box:

     * [2224]chain:

     * [2225]channel:

     * [2226]channel hopping:

     * [2227]channel op:

     * [2228]chanop:

     * [2229]char:

     * [2230]charityware:

     * [2231]chase pointers:

     * [2232]chawmp:

     * [2233]check:

     * [2234]cheerfully:

     * [2235]chemist:

     * [2236]Chernobyl chicken:

     * [2237]Chernobyl packet:

     * [2238]chicken head:

     * [2239]chiclet keyboard:

     * [2240]Chinese Army technique:

     * [2241]choad:

     * [2242]choke:

     * [2243]chomp:

     * [2244]chomper:

     * [2245]CHOP:

     * [2246]Christmas tree:

     * [2247]Christmas tree packet:

     * [2248]chrome:

     * [2249]chug:

     * [2250]Church of the SubGenius:

     * [2251]Cinderella Book:

     * [2252]CI$:

     * [2253]Classic C:

     * [2254]clean:

     * [2255]CLM:

     * [2256]clobber:

     * [2257]clock:

     * [2258]clocks:

     * [2259]clone:

     * [2260]clone-and-hack coding:

     * [2261]clover key:

     * [2262]clue-by-four:

     * [2263]clustergeeking:

     * [2264]co-lo:

     * [2265]code:

     * [2266]coaster:

     * [2267]COBOL:

     * [2268]COBOL fingers:

     * [2269]cobweb site:

     * [2270]code grinder:

     * [2271]code monkey:

     * [2272]Code of the Geeks:

     * [2273]code police:

     * [2274]codes:

     * [2275]codewalker:

     * [2276]coefficient of X:

     * [2277]cokebottle:

     * [2278]cold boot:

     * [2279]COME FROM:

     * [2280]comm mode:

     * [2281]command key:

     * [2282]comment out:

     * [2283]Commonwealth Hackish:

     * [2284]compact:

     * [2285]compiler jock:

     * [2286]compo:

     * [2287]compress:

     * [2288]Compu$erve:

     * [2289]computer confetti:

     * [2290]computer geek:

     * [2291]computron:

     * [2292]con:

     * [2293]condition out:

     * [2294]condom:

     * [2295]confuser:

     * [2296]connector conspiracy:

     * [2297]cons:

     * [2298]considered harmful:

     * [2299]console:

     * [2300]console jockey:

     * [2301]content-free:

     * [2302]control-C:

     * [2303]control-O:

     * [2304]control-Q:

     * [2305]control-S:

     * [2306]Conway's Law:

     * [2307]cookbook:

     * [2308]cooked mode:

     * [2309]cookie:

     * [2310]cookie bear:

     * [2311]cookie file:

     * [2312]cookie jar:

     * [2313]cookie monster:

     * [2314]copious free time:

     * [2315]copper:

     * [2316]copy protection:

     * [2317]copybroke:

     * [2318]copycenter:

     * [2319]copyleft:

     * [2320]copyparty:

     * [2321]copywronged:

     * [2322]core:

     * [2323]core cancer:

     * [2324]core dump:

     * [2325]core leak:

     * [2326]Core Wars:

     * [2327]corge:

     * [2328]cosmic rays:

     * [2329]cough and die:

     * [2330]courier:

     * [2331]cow orker:

     * [2332]cowboy:

     * [2333]CP/M:

     * [2334]CPU Wars:

     * [2335]crack:

     * [2336]crack root:

     * [2337]cracker:

     * [2338]cracking:

     * [2339]crank:

     * [2340]crapplet:

     * [2341]CrApTeX:

     * [2342]crash:

     * [2343]crash and burn:

     * [2344]crawling horror:

     * [2345]cray:

     * [2346]cray instability:

     * [2347]crayola:

     * [2348]crayola books:

     * [2349]crayon:

     * [2350]creationism:

     * [2351]creep:

     * [2352]creeping elegance:

     * [2353]creeping featurism:

     * [2354]creeping featuritis:

     * [2355]cretin:

     * [2356]cretinous:

     * [2357]crippleware:

     * [2358]critical mass:

     * [2359]crlf:

     * [2360]crock:

     * [2361]cross-post:

     * [2362]crossload:

     * [2363]crudware:

     * [2364]cruft:

     * [2365]cruft together:

     * [2366]cruftsmanship:

     * [2367]crufty:

     * [2368]crumb:

     * [2369]crunch:

     * [2370]cryppie:

     * [2371]CTSS:

     * [2372]cube:

     * [2373]cubing:

     * [2374]cup holder:

     * [2375]cursor dipped in X:

     * [2376]cuspy:

     * [2377]cut a tape:

     * [2378]cybercrud:

     * [2379]cyberpunk:

     * [2380]cyberspace:

     * [2381]cycle:

     * [2382]cycle crunch:

     * [2383]cycle drought:

     * [2384]cycle of reincarnation:

     * [2385]cycle server:

     * [2386]cypherpunk:

     * [2387]C|N>K:



   Node:C, Next:[2388]C Programmer's Disease, Previous:[2389]Bzzzt!

   Wrong., Up:[2390]= C =


   C n.


   1. The third letter of the English alphabet. 2. ASCII 1000011. 3. The

   name of a programming language designed by Dennis Ritchie during the

   early 1970s and immediately used to reimplement [2391]Unix; so called

   because many features derived from an earlier compiler named `B' in

   commemoration of its parent, BCPL. (BCPL was in turn descended from an

   earlier Algol-derived language, CPL.) Before Bjarne Stroustrup settled

   the question by designing [2392]C++, there was a humorous debate over

   whether C's successor should be named `D' or `P'. C became immensely

   popular outside Bell Labs after about 1980 and is now the dominant

   language in systems and microcomputer applications programming. See

   also [2393]languages of choice, [2394]indent style.


   C is often described, with a mixture of fondness and disdain varying

   according to the speaker, as "a language that combines all the

   elegance and power of assembly language with all the readability and

   maintainability of assembly language".



   Node:C Programmer's Disease, Next:[2395]C&C, Previous:[2396]C,

   Up:[2397]= C =


   C Programmer's Disease n.


   The tendency of the undisciplined C programmer to set arbitrary but

   supposedly generous static limits on table sizes (defined, if you're

   lucky, by constants in header files) rather than taking the trouble to

   do proper dynamic storage allocation. If an application user later

   needs to put 68 elements into a table of size 50, the afflicted

   programmer reasons that he or she can easily reset the table size to

   68 (or even as much as 70, to allow for future expansion) and

   recompile. This gives the programmer the comfortable feeling of having

   made the effort to satisfy the user's (unreasonable) demands, and

   often affords the user multiple opportunities to explore the marvelous

   consequences of [2398]fandango on core. In severe cases of the

   disease, the programmer cannot comprehend why each fix of this kind

   seems only to further disgruntle the user.



   Node:C&C, Next:[2399]C++, Previous:[2400]C Programmer's Disease,

   Up:[2401]= C =


   C&C //


   [common, esp. on] Contraction of "Coffee &

   Cats". This frequently occurs as a warning label on USENET posts that

   are likely to cause you to [2402]snarf coffee onto your keyboard and

   startle the cat off your lap.



   Node:C++, Next:[2403]calculator, Previous:[2404]C&C, Up:[2405]= C =


   C++ /C'-pluhs-pluhs/ n.


   Designed by Bjarne Stroustrup of AT&T Bell Labs as a successor to

   [2406]C. Now one of the [2407]languages of choice, although many

   hackers still grumble that it is the successor to either Algol 68 or

   [2408]Ada (depending on generation), and a prime example of

   [2409]second-system effect. Almost anything that can be done in any

   language can be done in C++, but it requires a [2410]language lawyer

   to know what is and what is not legal-- the design is almost too large

   to hold in even hackers' heads. Much of the [2411]cruft results from

   C++'s attempt to be backward compatible with C. Stroustrup himself has

   said in his retrospective book "The Design and Evolution of C++" (p.

   207), "Within C++, there is a much smaller and cleaner language

   struggling to get out." [Many hackers would now add "Yes, and it's

   called [2412]Java" --ESR]



   Node:calculator, Next:[2413]Camel Book, Previous:[2414]C++, Up:[2415]=

   C =


   calculator [Cambridge] n.


   Syn. for [2416]bitty box.



   Node:Camel Book, Next:[2417]can, Previous:[2418]calculator, Up:[2419]=

   C =


   Camel Book n.


   Universally recognized nickname for the book "Programming Perl", by

   Larry Wall and Randal L. Schwartz, O'Reilly and Associates 1991, ISBN

   0-937175-64-1 (second edition 1996, ISBN 1-56592-149-6). The

   definitive reference on [2420]Perl.



   Node:can, Next:[2421]can't happen, Previous:[2422]Camel Book,

   Up:[2423]= C =


   can vt.


   To abort a job on a time-sharing system. Used esp. when the person

   doing the deed is an operator, as in "canned from the [2424]console".

   Frequently used in an imperative sense, as in "Can that print job, the

   LPT just popped a sprocket!" Synonymous with [2425]gun. It is said

   that the ASCII character with mnemonic CAN (0011000) was used as a

   kill-job character on some early OSes. Alternatively, this term may

   derive from mainstream slang `canned' for being laid off or fired.



   Node:can't happen, Next:[2426]cancelbot, Previous:[2427]can,

   Up:[2428]= C =


   can't happen


   The traditional program comment for code executed under a condition

   that should never be true, for example a file size computed as

   negative. Often, such a condition being true indicates data corruption

   or a faulty algorithm; it is almost always handled by emitting a fatal

   error message and terminating or crashing, since there is little else

   that can be done. Some case variant of "can't happen" is also often

   the text emitted if the `impossible' error actually happens! Although

   "can't happen" events are genuinely infrequent in production code,

   programmers wise enough to check for them habitually are often

   surprised at how frequently they are triggered during development and

   how many headaches checking for them turns out to head off. See also

   [2429]firewall code (sense 2).



   Node:cancelbot, Next:[2430]Cancelmoose[tm], Previous:[2431]can't

   happen, Up:[2432]= C =


   cancelbot /kan'sel-bot/


   [Usenet: compound, cancel + robot] 1. Mythically, a

   [2433]robocanceller 2. In reality, most cancelbots are manually

   operated by being fed lists of spam message IDs.



   Node:Cancelmoose[tm], Next:[2434]candygrammar,

   Previous:[2435]cancelbot, Up:[2436]= C =


   Cancelmoose[tm] /kan'sel-moos/


   [Usenet] The archetype and model of all good [2437]spam-fighters. Once

   upon a time, the 'Moose would send out spam-cancels and then post

   notice anonymously to news.admin.policy, news.admin.misc, and The 'Moose stepped to the fore on its

   own initiative, at a time (mid-1994) when spam-cancels were irregular

   and disorganized, and behaved altogether admirably - fair,

   even-handed, and quick to respond to comments and criticism, all

   without self-aggrandizement or martyrdom. Cancelmoose[tm] quickly

   gained near-unanimous support from the readership of all three

   above-mentioned groups.


   Nobody knows who Cancelmoose[tm] really is, and there aren't even any

   good rumors. However, the 'Moose now has an e-mail address

   ([2438] and a web site ([2439]


   By early 1995, others had stepped into the spam-cancel business, and

   appeared to be comporting themselves well, after the 'Moose's manner.

   The 'Moose has now gotten out of the business, and is more interested

   in ending spam (and cancels) entirely.



   Node:candygrammar, Next:[2440]canonical,

   Previous:[2441]Cancelmoose[tm], Up:[2442]= C =


   candygrammar n.


   A programming-language grammar that is mostly [2443]syntactic sugar;

   the term is also a play on `candygram'. [2444]COBOL, Apple's Hypertalk

   language, and a lot of the so-called `4GL' database languages share

   this property. The usual intent of such designs is that they be as

   English-like as possible, on the theory that they will then be easier

   for unskilled people to program. This intention comes to grief on the

   reality that syntax isn't what makes programming hard; it's the mental

   effort and organization required to specify an algorithm precisely

   that costs. Thus the invariable result is that `candygrammar'

   languages are just as difficult to program in as terser ones, and far

   more painful for the experienced hacker.


   [The overtones from the old Chevy Chase skit on Saturday Night Live

   should not be overlooked. This was a "Jaws" parody. Someone lurking

   outside an apartment door tries all kinds of bogus ways to get the

   occupant to open up, while ominous music plays in the background. The

   last attempt is a half-hearted "Candygram!" When the door is opened, a

   shark bursts in and chomps the poor occupant. [There is a similar gag

   in "Blazing Saddles" --ESR] There is a moral here for those attracted

   to candygrammars. Note that, in many circles, pretty much the same

   ones who remember Monty Python sketches, all it takes is the word

   "Candygram!", suitably timed, to get people rolling on the floor. --




   Node:canonical, Next:[2445]card walloper, Previous:[2446]candygrammar,

   Up:[2447]= C =


   canonical adj.


   [very common; historically, `according to religious law'] The usual or

   standard state or manner of something. This word has a somewhat more

   technical meaning in mathematics. Two formulas such as 9 + x and x + 9

   are said to be equivalent because they mean the same thing, but the

   second one is in `canonical form' because it is written in the usual

   way, with the highest power of x first. Usually there are fixed rules

   you can use to decide whether something is in canonical form. The

   jargon meaning, a relaxation of the technical meaning, acquired its

   present loading in computer-science culture largely through its

   prominence in Alonzo Church's work in computation theory and

   mathematical logic (see [2448]Knights of the Lambda Calculus). Compare



   Non-technical academics do not use the adjective `canonical' in any of

   the senses defined above with any regularity; they do however use the

   nouns `canon' and `canonicity' (not **canonicalness or

   **canonicality). The `canon' of a given author is the complete body of

   authentic works by that author (this usage is familiar to Sherlock

   Holmes fans as well as to literary scholars). `The canon' is the body

   of works in a given field (e.g., works of literature, or of art, or of

   music) deemed worthwhile for students to study and for scholars to



   The word `canon' has an interesting history. It derives ultimately

   from the Greek `kanon' (akin to the English `cane') referring to a

   reed. Reeds were used for measurement, and in Latin and later Greek

   the word `canon' meant a rule or a standard. The establishment of a

   canon of scriptures within Christianity was meant to define a standard

   or a rule for the religion. The above non-techspeak academic usages

   stem from this instance of a defined and accepted body of work.

   Alongside this usage was the promulgation of `canons' (`rules') for

   the government of the Catholic Church. The techspeak usages

   ("according to religious law") derive from this use of the Latin



   Hackers invest this term with a playfulness that makes an ironic

   contrast with its historical meaning. A true story: One Bob Sjoberg,

   new at the MIT AI Lab, expressed some annoyance at the incessant use

   of jargon. Over his loud objections, GLS and RMS made a point of using

   as much of it as possible in his presence, and eventually it began to

   sink in. Finally, in one conversation, he used the word `canonical' in

   jargon-like fashion without thinking. Steele: "Aha! We've finally got

   you talking jargon too!" Stallman: "What did he say?" Steele: "Bob

   just used `canonical' in the canonical way."


   Of course, canonicality depends on context, but it is implicitly

   defined as the way hackers normally expect things to be. Thus, a

   hacker may claim with a straight face that `according to religious

   law' is not the canonical meaning of `canonical'.



   Node:card walloper, Next:[2450]careware, Previous:[2451]canonical,

   Up:[2452]= C =


   card walloper n.


   An EDP programmer who grinds out batch programs that do stupid things

   like print people's paychecks. Compare [2453]code grinder. See also

   [2454]punched card, [2455]eighty-column mind.



   Node:careware, Next:[2456]cargo cult programming, Previous:[2457]card

   walloper, Up:[2458]= C =


   careware /keir'weir/ n.


   A variety of [2459]shareware for which either the author suggests that

   some payment be made to a nominated charity or a levy directed to

   charity is included on top of the distribution charge. Syn.

   [2460]charityware; compare [2461]crippleware, sense 2.



   Node:cargo cult programming, Next:[2462]cascade,

   Previous:[2463]careware, Up:[2464]= C =


   cargo cult programming n.


   A style of (incompetent) programming dominated by ritual inclusion of

   code or program structures that serve no real purpose. A cargo cult

   programmer will usually explain the extra code as a way of working

   around some bug encountered in the past, but usually neither the bug

   nor the reason the code apparently avoided the bug was ever fully

   understood (compare [2465]shotgun debugging, [2466]voodoo



   The term `cargo cult' is a reference to aboriginal religions that grew

   up in the South Pacific after World War II. The practices of these

   cults center on building elaborate mockups of airplanes and military

   style landing strips in the hope of bringing the return of the

   god-like airplanes that brought such marvelous cargo during the war.

   Hackish usage probably derives from Richard Feynman's characterization

   of certain practices as "cargo cult science" in his book "Surely

   You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" (W. W. Norton & Co, New York 1985, ISBN




   Node:cascade, Next:[2467]case and paste, Previous:[2468]cargo cult

   programming, Up:[2469]= C =


   cascade n.


   1. A huge volume of spurious error-message output produced by a

   compiler with poor error recovery. Too frequently, one trivial syntax

   error (such as a missing `)' or `}') throws the parser out of synch so

   that much of the remaining program text is interpreted as garbaged or

   ill-formed. 2. A chain of Usenet followups, each adding some trivial

   variation or riposte to the text of the previous one, all of which is

   reproduced in the new message; an [2470]include war in which the

   object is to create a sort of communal graffito.



   Node:case and paste, Next:[2471]casters-up mode,

   Previous:[2472]cascade, Up:[2473]= C =


   case and paste n.


   [from `cut and paste'] 1. The addition of a new [2474]feature to an

   existing system by selecting the code from an existing feature and

   pasting it in with minor changes. Common in telephony circles because

   most operations in a telephone switch are selected using case

   statements. Leads to [2475]software bloat.


   In some circles of EMACS users this is called `programming by Meta-W',

   because Meta-W is the EMACS command for copying a block of text to a

   kill buffer in preparation to pasting it in elsewhere. The term is

   condescending, implying that the programmer is acting mindlessly

   rather than thinking carefully about what is required to integrate the

   code for two similar cases.


   At [2476]DEC (now Compaq), this is sometimes called `clone-and-hack'




   Node:casters-up mode, Next:[2477]casting the runes,

   Previous:[2478]case and paste, Up:[2479]= C =


   casters-up mode n.


   [IBM, prob. fr. slang belly up] Yet another synonym for `broken' or

   `down'. Usually connotes a major failure. A system (hardware or

   software) which is `down' may be already being restarted before the

   failure is noticed, whereas one which is `casters up' is usually a

   good excuse to take the rest of the day off (as long as you're not

   responsible for fixing it).



   Node:casting the runes, Next:[2480]cat, Previous:[2481]casters-up

   mode, Up:[2482]= C =


   casting the runes n.


   What a [2483]guru does when you ask him or her to run a particular

   program and type at it because it never works for anyone else; esp.

   used when nobody can ever see what the guru is doing different from

   what J. Random Luser does. Compare [2484]incantation, [2485]runes,

   [2486]examining the entrails; also see the AI koan about Tom Knight in

   "[2487]Some AI Koans" (Appendix A).


   A correspondent from England tells us that one of ICL's most talented

   systems designers used to be called out occasionally to service

   machines which the [2488]field circus had given up on. Since he knew

   the design inside out, he could often find faults simply by listening

   to a quick outline of the symptoms. He used to play on this by going

   to some site where the field circus had just spent the last two weeks

   solid trying to find a fault, and spreading a diagram of the system

   out on a table top. He'd then shake some chicken bones and cast them

   over the diagram, peer at the bones intently for a minute, and then

   tell them that a certain module needed replacing. The system would

   start working again immediately upon the replacement.



   Node:cat, Next:[2489]catatonic, Previous:[2490]casting the runes,

   Up:[2491]= C =


   cat [from `catenate' via [2492]Unix cat(1)] vt.


   1. [techspeak] To spew an entire file to the screen or some other

   output sink without pause (syn. [2493]blast). 2. By extension, to dump

   large amounts of data at an unprepared target or with no intention of

   browsing it carefully. Usage: considered silly. Rare outside Unix

   sites. See also [2494]dd, [2495]BLT.


   Among Unix fans, cat(1) is considered an excellent example of

   user-interface design, because it delivers the file contents without

   such verbosity as spacing or headers between the files, and because it

   does not require the files to consist of lines of text, but works with

   any sort of data.


   Among Unix haters, cat(1) is considered the [2496]canonical example of

   bad user-interface design, because of its woefully unobvious name. It

   is far more often used to [2497]blast a file to standard output than

   to concatenate two files. The name cat for the former operation is

   just as unintuitive as, say, LISP's [2498]cdr.


   Of such oppositions are [2499]holy wars made....



   Node:catatonic, Next:[2500]cathedral, Previous:[2501]cat, Up:[2502]= C



   catatonic adj.


   Describes a condition of suspended animation in which something is so

   [2503]wedged or [2504]hung that it makes no response. If you are

   typing on a terminal and suddenly the computer doesn't even echo the

   letters back to the screen as you type, let alone do what you're

   asking it to do, then the computer is suffering from catatonia

   (possibly because it has crashed). "There I was in the middle of a

   winning game of [2505]nethack and it went catatonic on me! Aaargh!"

   Compare [2506]buzz.



   Node:cathedral, Next:[2507]cd tilde, Previous:[2508]catatonic,

   Up:[2509]= C =


   cathedral n.,adj.


   [see [2510]bazaar for derivation] The `classical' mode of software

   engineering long thought to be necessarily implied by [2511]Brooks's

   Law. Features small teams, tight project control, and long release

   intervals. This term came into use after analysis of the Linux

   experience suggested there might be something wrong (or at least

   incomplete) in the classical assumptions.



   Node:cd tilde, Next:[2512]CDA, Previous:[2513]cathedral, Up:[2514]= C



   cd tilde /C-D til-d*/ vi.


   To go home. From the Unix C-shell and Korn-shell command cd ~, which

   takes one to one's $HOME (cd with no arguments happens to do the same

   thing). By extension, may be used with other arguments; thus, over an

   electronic chat link, cd ~coffee would mean "I'm going to the coffee




   Node:CDA, Next:[2515]cdr, Previous:[2516]cd tilde, Up:[2517]= C =


   CDA /C-D-A/


   The "Communications Decency Act" of 1996, passed on [2518]Black

   Thursday as section 502 of a major telecommunications reform bill. The

   CDA made it a federal crime in the USA to send a communication which

   is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to

   annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person." It also threatened

   with imprisonment anyone who "knowingly" makes accessible to minors

   any message that "describes, in terms patently offensive as measured

   by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory activities or



   While the CDA was sold as a measure to protect minors from the

   putative evils of pornography, the repressive political aims of the

   bill were laid bare by the Hyde amendment, which intended to outlaw

   discussion of abortion on the Internet.


   To say that this direct attack on First Amendment free-speech rights

   was not well received on the Internet would be putting it mildly. A

   firestorm of protest followed, including a February 29th mass

   demonstration by thousands of netters who turned their [2519]home

   pages black for 48 hours. Several civil-rights groups and

   computing/telecommunications companies mounted a constitutional

   challenge. The CDA was demolished by a strongly-worded decision handed

   down on in 8th-circuit Federal court and subsequently affirmed by the

   U.S. Supreme Court on 26 June 1997 (`White Thursday'). See also




   Node:cdr, Next:[2521]chad, Previous:[2522]CDA, Up:[2523]= C =


   cdr /ku'dr/ or /kuh'dr/ vt.


   [from LISP] To skip past the first item from a list of things

   (generalized from the LISP operation on binary tree structures, which

   returns a list consisting of all but the first element of its

   argument). In the form `cdr down', to trace down a list of elements:

   "Shall we cdr down the agenda?" Usage: silly. See also [2524]loop



   Historical note: The instruction format of the IBM 704 that hosted the

   original LISP implementation featured two 15-bit fields called the

   `address' and `decrement' parts. The term `cdr' was originally

   `Contents of Decrement part of Register'. Similarly, `car' stood for

   `Contents of Address part of Register'.


   The cdr and car operations have since become bases for formation of

   compound metaphors in non-LISP contexts. GLS recalls, for example, a

   programming project in which strings were represented as linked lists;

   the get-character and skip-character operations were of course called

   CHAR and CHDR.



   Node:chad, Next:[2525]chad box, Previous:[2526]cdr, Up:[2527]= C =


   chad /chad/ n.


   1. [common] The perforated edge strips on printer paper, after they

   have been separated from the printed portion. Also called

   [2528]selvage, [2529]perf, and [2530]ripoff. 2. obs. The confetti-like

   paper bits punched out of cards or paper tape; this has also been

   called `chaff', `computer confetti', and `keypunch droppings'. It's

   reported that this was very old Army slang, and it may now be

   mainstream; it has been reported seen (1993) in directions for a

   card-based voting machine in California.


   Historical note: One correspondent believes `chad' (sense 2) derives

   from the Chadless keypunch (named for its inventor), which cut little

   u-shaped tabs in the card to make a hole when the tab folded back,

   rather than punching out a circle/rectangle; it was clear that if the

   Chadless keypunch didn't make them, then the stuff that other

   keypunches made had to be `chad'. There is a legend that the word was

   originally acronymic, standing for "Card Hole Aggregate Debris", but

   this has all the earmarks of a [2531]backronym.



   Node:chad box, Next:[2532]chain, Previous:[2533]chad, Up:[2534]= C =


   chad box n.


   A metal box about the size of a lunchbox (or in some models a large

   wastebasket), for collecting the [2535]chad (sense 2) that accumulated

   in [2536]Iron Age card punches. You had to open the covers of the card

   punch periodically and empty the chad box. The [2537]bit bucket was

   notionally the equivalent device in the CPU enclosure, which was

   typically across the room in another great gray-and-blue box.



   Node:chain, Next:[2538]channel, Previous:[2539]chad box, Up:[2540]= C





   1. vi. [orig. from BASIC's CHAIN statement] To hand off execution to a

   child or successor without going through the [2541]OS command

   interpreter that invoked it. The state of the parent program is lost

   and there is no returning to it. Though this facility used to be

   common on memory-limited micros and is still widely supported for

   backward compatibility, the jargon usage is semi-obsolescent; in

   particular, most Unix programmers will think of this as an [2542]exec.

   Oppose the more modern `subshell'. 2. n. A series of linked data areas

   within an operating system or application. `Chain rattling' is the

   process of repeatedly running through the linked data areas searching

   for one which is of interest to the executing program. The implication

   is that there is a very large number of links on the chain.



   Node:channel, Next:[2543]channel hopping, Previous:[2544]chain,

   Up:[2545]= C =


   channel n.


   [IRC] The basic unit of discussion on [2546]IRC. Once one joins a

   channel, everything one types is read by others on that channel.

   Channels are named with strings that begin with a `#' sign and can

   have topic descriptions (which are generally irrelevant to the actual

   subject of discussion). Some notable channels are #initgame, #hottub,

   callahans, and #report. At times of international crisis, #report has

   hundreds of members, some of whom take turns listening to various news

   services and typing in summaries of the news, or in some cases, giving

   first-hand accounts of the action (e.g., Scud missile attacks in Tel

   Aviv during the Gulf War in 1991).



   Node:channel hopping, Next:[2547]channel op, Previous:[2548]channel,

   Up:[2549]= C =


   channel hopping n.


   [common; IRC, GEnie] To rapidly switch channels on [2550]IRC, or a

   GEnie chat board, just as a social butterfly might hop from one group

   to another at a party. This term may derive from the TV watcher's

   idiom, `channel surfing'.



   Node:channel op, Next:[2551]chanop, Previous:[2552]channel hopping,

   Up:[2553]= C =


   channel op /chan'l op/ n.


   [IRC] Someone who is endowed with privileges on a particular [2554]IRC

   channel; commonly abbreviated `chanop' or `CHOP' or just `op' (as of

   2000 these short forms have almost crowded out the parent usage).

   These privileges include the right to [2555]kick users, to change

   various status bits, and to make others into CHOPs.



   Node:chanop, Next:[2556]char, Previous:[2557]channel op, Up:[2558]= C



   chanop /chan'-op/ n.


   [IRC] See [2559]channel op.



   Node:char, Next:[2560]charityware, Previous:[2561]chanop, Up:[2562]= C



   char /keir/ or /char/; rarely, /kar/ n.


   Shorthand for `character'. Esp. used by C programmers, as `char' is

   C's typename for character data.



   Node:charityware, Next:[2563]chase pointers, Previous:[2564]char,

   Up:[2565]= C =


   charityware /cha'rit-ee-weir`/ n.


   Syn. [2566]careware.



   Node:chase pointers, Next:[2567]chawmp, Previous:[2568]charityware,

   Up:[2569]= C =


   chase pointers


   1. vi. To go through multiple levels of indirection, as in traversing

   a linked list or graph structure. Used esp. by programmers in C, where

   explicit pointers are a very common data type. This is techspeak, but

   it remains jargon when used of human networks. "I'm chasing pointers.

   Bob said you could tell me who to talk to about...." See

   [2570]dangling pointer and [2571]snap. 2. [Cambridge] `pointer chase'

   or `pointer hunt': The process of going through a [2572]core dump

   (sense 1), interactively or on a large piece of paper printed with hex

   [2573]runes, following dynamic data-structures. Used only in a

   debugging context.



   Node:chawmp, Next:[2574]check, Previous:[2575]chase pointers,

   Up:[2576]= C =


   chawmp n.


   [University of Florida] 16 or 18 bits (half of a machine word). This

   term was used by FORTH hackers during the late 1970s/early 1980s; it

   is said to have been archaic then, and may now be obsolete. It was

   coined in revolt against the promiscuous use of `word' for anything

   between 16 and 32 bits; `word' has an additional special meaning for

   FORTH hacks that made the overloading intolerable. For similar

   reasons, /gaw'bl/ (spelled `gawble' or possibly `gawbul') was in use

   as a term for 32 or 48 bits (presumably a full machine word, but our

   sources are unclear on this). These terms are more easily understood

   if one thinks of them as faithful phonetic spellings of `chomp' and

   `gobble' pronounced in a Florida or other Southern U.S. dialect. For

   general discussion of similar terms, see [2577]nybble.



   Node:check, Next:[2578]cheerfully, Previous:[2579]chawmp, Up:[2580]= C



   check n.


   A hardware-detected error condition, most commonly used to refer to

   actual hardware failures rather than software-induced traps. E.g., a

   `parity check' is the result of a hardware-detected parity error.

   Recorded here because the word often humorously extended to

   non-technical problems. For example, the term `child check' has been

   used to refer to the problems caused by a small child who is curious

   to know what happens when s/he presses all the cute buttons on a

   computer's console (of course, this particular problem could have been

   prevented with [2581]molly-guards).



   Node:cheerfully, Next:[2582]chemist, Previous:[2583]check, Up:[2584]=

   C =


   cheerfully adv.


   See [2585]happily.



   Node:chemist, Next:[2586]Chernobyl chicken, Previous:[2587]cheerfully,

   Up:[2588]= C =


   chemist n.


   [Cambridge] Someone who wastes computer time on [2589]number-crunching

   when you'd far rather the machine were doing something more

   productive, such as working out anagrams of your name or printing

   Snoopy calendars or running [2590]life patterns. May or may not refer

   to someone who actually studies chemistry.



   Node:Chernobyl chicken, Next:[2591]Chernobyl packet,

   Previous:[2592]chemist, Up:[2593]= C =


   Chernobyl chicken n.


   See [2594]laser chicken.



   Node:Chernobyl packet, Next:[2595]chicken head,

   Previous:[2596]Chernobyl chicken, Up:[2597]= C =


   Chernobyl packet /cher-noh'b*l pak'*t/ n.


   A network packet that induces a [2598]broadcast storm and/or

   [2599]network meltdown, in memory of the April 1986 nuclear accident

   at Chernobyl in Ukraine. The typical scenario involves an IP Ethernet

   datagram that passes through a gateway with both source and

   destination Ether and IP address set as the respective broadcast

   addresses for the subnetworks being gated between. Compare

   [2600]Christmas tree packet.



   Node:chicken head, Next:[2601]chiclet keyboard,

   Previous:[2602]Chernobyl packet, Up:[2603]= C =


   chicken head n.


   [Commodore] The Commodore Business Machines logo, which strongly

   resembles a poultry part (within Commodore itself the logo was always

   called `chicken lips'). Rendered in ASCII as `C='. With the arguable

   exception of the Amiga (see [2604]amoeba), Commodore's machines were

   notoriously crocky little [2605]bitty boxes (see also [2606]PETSCII),

   albeit people have written multitasking Unix-like operating systems

   with TCP/IP networking for them. Thus, this usage may owe something to

   Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the

   basis for the movie "Blade Runner"; the novel is now sold under that

   title), in which a `chickenhead' is a mutant with below-average




   Node:chiclet keyboard, Next:[2607]Chinese Army technique,

   Previous:[2608]chicken head, Up:[2609]= C =


   chiclet keyboard n.


   A keyboard with a small, flat rectangular or lozenge-shaped rubber or

   plastic keys that look like pieces of chewing gum. (Chiclets is the

   brand name of a variety of chewing gum that does in fact resemble the

   keys of chiclet keyboards.) Used esp. to describe the original IBM

   PCjr keyboard. Vendors unanimously liked these because they were

   cheap, and a lot of early portable and laptop products got launched

   using them. Customers rejected the idea with almost equal unanimity,

   and chiclets are not often seen on anything larger than a digital

   watch any more.



   Node:Chinese Army technique, Next:[2610]choad, Previous:[2611]chiclet

   keyboard, Up:[2612]= C =


   Chinese Army technique n.


   Syn. [2613]Mongolian Hordes technique.



   Node:choad, Next:[2614]choke, Previous:[2615]Chinese Army technique,

   Up:[2616]= C =


   choad /chohd/ n.


   Synonym for `penis' used in alt.tasteless and popularized by the

   denizens thereof. They say: "We think maybe it's from Middle English

   but we're all too damned lazy to check the OED." [I'm not. It isn't.

   --ESR] This term is alleged to have been inherited through 1960s

   underground comics, and to have been recently sighted in the Beavis

   and Butthead cartoons. Speakers of the Hindi, Bengali and Gujarati

   languages have confirmed that `choad' is in fact an Indian vernacular

   word equivalent to `fuck'; it is therefore likely to have entered

   English slang via the British Raj.



   Node:choke, Next:[2617]chomp, Previous:[2618]choad, Up:[2619]= C =


   choke v.


   1. [common] To reject input, often ungracefully. "NULs make System V's

   lpr(1) choke." "I tried building an [2620]EMACS binary to use [2621]X,

   but cpp(1) choked on all those #defines." See [2622]barf, [2623]gag,

   [2624]vi. 2. [MIT] More generally, to fail at any endeavor, but with

   some flair or bravado; the popular definition is "to snatch defeat

   from the jaws of victory."



   Node:chomp, Next:[2625]chomper, Previous:[2626]choke, Up:[2627]= C =


   chomp vi.


   1. To [2628]lose; specifically, to chew on something of which more was

   bitten off than one can. Probably related to gnashing of teeth. 2. To

   bite the bag; See [2629]bagbiter.


   A hand gesture commonly accompanies this. To perform it, hold the four

   fingers together and place the thumb against their tips. Now open and

   close your hand rapidly to suggest a biting action (much like what

   Pac-Man does in the classic video game, though this pantomime seems to

   predate that). The gesture alone means `chomp chomp' (see "[2630]Verb

   Doubling" in the "[2631]Jargon Construction" section of the

   Prependices). The hand may be pointed at the object of complaint, and

   for real emphasis you can use both hands at once. Doing this to a

   person is equivalent to saying "You chomper!" If you point the gesture

   at yourself, it is a humble but humorous admission of some failure.

   You might do this if someone told you that a program you had written

   had failed in some surprising way and you felt dumb for not having

   anticipated it.



   Node:chomper, Next:[2632]CHOP, Previous:[2633]chomp, Up:[2634]= C =


   chomper n.


   Someone or something that is chomping; a loser. See [2635]loser,

   [2636]bagbiter, [2637]chomp.



   Node:CHOP, Next:[2638]Christmas tree, Previous:[2639]chomper,

   Up:[2640]= C =


   CHOP /chop/ n.


   [IRC] See [2641]channel op.



   Node:Christmas tree, Next:[2642]Christmas tree packet,

   Previous:[2643]CHOP, Up:[2644]= C =


   Christmas tree n.


   A kind of RS-232 line tester or breakout box featuring rows of

   blinking red and green LEDs suggestive of Christmas lights.



   Node:Christmas tree packet, Next:[2645]chrome,

   Previous:[2646]Christmas tree, Up:[2647]= C =


   Christmas tree packet n.


   A packet with every single option set for whatever protocol is in use.

   See [2648]kamikaze packet, [2649]Chernobyl packet. (The term doubtless

   derives from a fanciful image of each little option bit being

   represented by a different-colored light bulb, all turned on.) Compare




   Node:chrome, Next:[2651]chug, Previous:[2652]Christmas tree packet,

   Up:[2653]= C =


   chrome n.


   [from automotive slang via wargaming] Showy features added to attract

   users but contributing little or nothing to the power of a system.

   "The 3D icons in Motif are just chrome, but they certainly are pretty

   chrome!" Distinguished from [2654]bells and whistles by the fact that

   the latter are usually added to gratify developers' own desires for

   featurefulness. Often used as a term of contempt.



   Node:chug, Next:[2655]Church of the SubGenius, Previous:[2656]chrome,

   Up:[2657]= C =


   chug vi.


   To run slowly; to [2658]grind or [2659]grovel. "The disk is chugging

   like crazy."



   Node:Church of the SubGenius, Next:[2660]Cinderella Book,

   Previous:[2661]chug, Up:[2662]= C =


   Church of the SubGenius n.


   A mutant offshoot of [2663]Discordianism launched in 1981 as a spoof

   of fundamentalist Christianity by the `Reverend' Ivan Stang, a

   brilliant satirist with a gift for promotion. Popular among hackers as

   a rich source of bizarre imagery and references such as "Bob" the

   divine drilling-equipment salesman, the Benevolent Space Xists, and

   the Stark Fist of Removal. Much SubGenius theory is concerned with the

   acquisition of the mystical substance or quality of [2664]slack. There

   is a home page at [2665]



   Node:Cinderella Book, Next:[2666]CI$, Previous:[2667]Church of the

   SubGenius, Up:[2668]= C =


   Cinderella Book [CMU] n.


   "Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation", by John

   Hopcroft and Jeffrey Ullman, (Addison-Wesley, 1979). So called because

   the cover depicts a girl (putatively Cinderella) sitting in front of a

   Rube Goldberg device and holding a rope coming out of it. On the back

   cover, the device is in shambles after she has (inevitably) pulled on

   the rope. See also [2669]book titles.



   Node:CI$, Next:[2670]Classic C, Previous:[2671]Cinderella Book,

   Up:[2672]= C =


   CI$ // n.


   Hackerism for `CIS', CompuServe Information Service. The dollar sign

   refers to CompuServe's rather steep line charges. Often used in

   [2673]sig blocks just before a CompuServe address. Syn.




   Node:Classic C, Next:[2675]clean, Previous:[2676]CI$, Up:[2677]= C =


   Classic C /klas'ik C/ n.


   [a play on `Coke Classic'] The C programming language as defined in

   the first edition of [2678]K&R, with some small additions. It is also

   known as `K&R C'. The name came into use while C was being

   standardized by the ANSI X3J11 committee. Also `C Classic'.


   An analogous construction is sometimes applied elsewhere: thus, `X

   Classic', where X = Star Trek (referring to the original TV series) or

   X = PC (referring to IBM's ISA-bus machines as opposed to the PS/2

   series). This construction is especially used of product series in

   which the newer versions are considered serious losers relative to the

   older ones.



   Node:clean, Next:[2679]CLM, Previous:[2680]Classic C, Up:[2681]= C =


   clean 1. adj.


   Used of hardware or software designs, implies `elegance in the small',

   that is, a design or implementation that may not hold any surprises

   but does things in a way that is reasonably intuitive and relatively

   easy to comprehend from the outside. The antonym is `grungy' or

   [2682]crufty. 2. v. To remove unneeded or undesired files in a effort

   to reduce clutter: "I'm cleaning up my account." "I cleaned up the

   garbage and now have 100 Meg free on that partition."



   Node:CLM, Next:[2683]clobber, Previous:[2684]clean, Up:[2685]= C =


   CLM /C-L-M/


   [Sun: `Career Limiting Move'] 1. n. An action endangering one's future

   prospects of getting plum projects and raises, and possibly one's job:

   "His Halloween costume was a parody of his manager. He won the prize

   for `best CLM'." 2. adj. Denotes extreme severity of a bug, discovered

   by a customer and obviously missed earlier because of poor testing:

   "That's a CLM bug!"



   Node:clobber, Next:[2686]clock, Previous:[2687]CLM, Up:[2688]= C =


   clobber vt.


   To overwrite, usually unintentionally: "I walked off the end of the

   array and clobbered the stack." Compare [2689]mung, [2690]scribble,

   [2691]trash, and [2692]smash the stack.



   Node:clock, Next:[2693]clocks, Previous:[2694]clobber, Up:[2695]= C =




   1. n 1. [techspeak] The master oscillator that steps a CPU or other

   digital circuit through its paces. This has nothing to do with the

   time of day, although the software counter that keeps track of the

   latter may be derived from the former. 2. vt. To run a CPU or other

   digital circuit at a particular rate. "If you clock it at 100MHz, it

   gets warm.". See [2696]overclock. 3. vt. To force a digital circuit

   from one state to the next by applying a single clock pulse. "The data

   must be stable 10ns before you clock the latch."



   Node:clocks, Next:[2697]clone, Previous:[2698]clock, Up:[2699]= C =


   clocks n.


   Processor logic cycles, so called because each generally corresponds

   to one clock pulse in the processor's timing. The relative execution

   times of instructions on a machine are usually discussed in clocks

   rather than absolute fractions of a second; one good reason for this

   is that clock speeds for various models of the machine may increase as

   technology improves, and it is usually the relative times one is

   interested in when discussing the instruction set. Compare

   [2700]cycle, [2701]jiffy.



   Node:clone, Next:[2702]clone-and-hack coding, Previous:[2703]clocks,

   Up:[2704]= C =


   clone n.


   1. An exact duplicate: "Our product is a clone of their product."

   Implies a legal reimplementation from documentation or by

   reverse-engineering. Also connotes lower price. 2. A shoddy, spurious

   copy: "Their product is a clone of our product." 3. A blatant ripoff,

   most likely violating copyright, patent, or trade secret protections:

   "Your product is a clone of my product." This use implies legal action

   is pending. 4. `PC clone:' a PC-BUS/ISA or EISA-compatible 80x86-based

   microcomputer (this use is sometimes spelled `klone' or `PClone').

   These invariably have much more bang for the buck than the IBM

   archetypes they resemble. 5. In the construction `Unix clone': An OS

   designed to deliver a Unix-lookalike environment without Unix license

   fees, or with additional `mission-critical' features such as support

   for real-time programming. 6. v. To make an exact copy of something.

   "Let me clone that" might mean "I want to borrow that paper so I can

   make a photocopy" or "Let me get a copy of that file before you

   [2705]mung it".



   Node:clone-and-hack coding, Next:[2706]clover key,

   Previous:[2707]clone, Up:[2708]= C =


   clone-and-hack coding n.


   [DEC] Syn. [2709]case and paste.



   Node:clover key, Next:[2710]clue-by-four,

   Previous:[2711]clone-and-hack coding, Up:[2712]= C =


   clover key n.


   [Mac users] See [2713]feature key.



   Node:clue-by-four, Next:[2714]clustergeeking, Previous:[2715]clover

   key, Up:[2716]= C =




   [Usenet: portmanteau, clue + two-by-four] The notional stick with

   which one whacks an aggressively clueless person. This term derives

   from a western American folk saying about training a mule "First, you

   got to hit him with a two-by-four. That's to get his attention." The

   clue-by-four is a close relative of the [2717]LART. Syn. `clue stick'.

   This metaphor is commonly elaborated; your editor once heard a hacker

   say "I strike you with the great sword Clue-Bringer!"



   Node:clustergeeking, Next:[2718]co-lo, Previous:[2719]clue-by-four,

   Up:[2720]= C =


   clustergeeking /kluh'st*r-gee`king/ n.


   [CMU] Spending more time at a computer cluster doing CS homework than

   most people spend breathing.



   Node:co-lo, Next:[2721]coaster, Previous:[2722]clustergeeking,

   Up:[2723]= C =


   co-lo /koh'loh`/ n.


   [very common; first heard c.1995] Short for `co-location', used of a

   machine you own that is physically sited on the premises of an ISP in

   order to take advantage of the ISP's direct access to lots of network

   bandwidthm. Often in the phrases `co-lo box' or `co-lo machines'.

   Co-lo boxes are typically web and FTP servers remote-administered by

   their owners, who may seldom or never visit the actual site.



   Node:coaster, Next:[2724]COBOL, Previous:[2725]co-lo, Up:[2726]= C =


   coaster n.


   1. Unuseable CD produced during failed attempt at writing to writeable

   or re-writeable CD media. Certainly related to the coaster-like shape

   of a CD, and the relative value of these failures. "I made a lot of

   coasters before I got a good CD." 2. Useless CDs received in the mail

   from the likes of AOL, MSN, CI$, Prodigy, ad nauseam.


   In the U.K., `beermat' is often used in these senses.



   Node:COBOL, Next:[2727]COBOL fingers, Previous:[2728]coaster,

   Up:[2729]= C =


   COBOL /koh'bol/ n.


   [COmmon Business-Oriented Language] (Synonymous with [2730]evil.) A

   weak, verbose, and flabby language used by [2731]card wallopers to do

   boring mindless things on [2732]dinosaur mainframes. Hackers believe

   that all COBOL programmers are [2733]suits or [2734]code grinders, and

   no self-respecting hacker will ever admit to having learned the

   language. Its very name is seldom uttered without ritual expressions

   of disgust or horror. One popular one is Edsger W. Dijkstra's famous

   observation that "The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching

   should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense." (from "Selected

   Writings on Computing: A Personal Perspective") See also [2735]fear

   and loathing, [2736]software rot.



   Node:COBOL fingers, Next:[2737]cobweb site, Previous:[2738]COBOL,

   Up:[2739]= C =


   COBOL fingers /koh'bol fing'grz/ n.


   Reported from Sweden, a (hypothetical) disease one might get from

   coding in COBOL. The language requires code verbose beyond all reason

   (see [2740]candygrammar); thus it is alleged that programming too much

   in COBOL causes one's fingers to wear down to stubs by the endless

   typing. "I refuse to type in all that source code again; it would give

   me COBOL fingers!"



   Node:cobweb site, Next:[2741]code, Previous:[2742]COBOL fingers,

   Up:[2743]= C =


   cobweb site n.


   A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated so long it has

   figuratively grown cobwebs.



   Node:code, Next:[2744]code grinder, Previous:[2745]cobweb site,

   Up:[2746]= C =


   code n.


   The stuff that software writers write, either in source form or after

   translation by a compiler or assembler. Often used in opposition to

   "data", which is the stuff that code operates on. This is a mass noun,

   as in "How much code does it take to do a [2747]bubble sort?", or "The

   code is loaded at the high end of RAM." Anyone referring to software

   as "the software codes" is probably a [2748]newbie or a [2749]suit.



   Node:code grinder, Next:[2750]code monkey, Previous:[2751]code,

   Up:[2752]= C =


   code grinder n.


   1. A [2753]suit-wearing minion of the sort hired in legion strength by

   banks and insurance companies to implement payroll packages in RPG and

   other such unspeakable horrors. In its native habitat, the code

   grinder often removes the suit jacket to reveal an underplumage

   consisting of button-down shirt (starch optional) and a tie. In times

   of dire stress, the sleeves (if long) may be rolled up and the tie

   loosened about half an inch. It seldom helps. The [2754]code grinder's

   milieu is about as far from hackerdom as one can get and still touch a

   computer; the term connotes pity. See [2755]Real World, [2756]suit. 2.

   Used of or to a hacker, a really serious slur on the person's creative

   ability; connotes a design style characterized by primitive technique,

   rule-boundedness, [2757]brute force, and utter lack of imagination.

   Compare [2758]card walloper; contrast [2759]hacker, [2760]Real




   Node:code monkey, Next:[2761]Code of the Geeks, Previous:[2762]code

   grinder, Up:[2763]= C =


   code monkey n


   1. A person only capable of grinding out code, but unable to perform

   the higher-primate tasks of software architecture, analysis, and

   design. Mildly insulting. Often applied to the most junior people on a

   programming team. 2. Anyone who writes code for a living; a

   programmer. 3. A self-deprecating way of denying responsibility for a

   [2764]management decision, or of complaining about having to live with

   such decisions. As in "Don't ask me why we need to write a compiler

   in+COBOL, I'm just a code monkey."



   Node:Code of the Geeks, Next:[2765]code police, Previous:[2766]code

   monkey, Up:[2767]= C =


   Code of the Geeks n.


   see [2768]geek code.



   Node:code police, Next:[2769]codes, Previous:[2770]Code of the Geeks,

   Up:[2771]= C =


   code police n.


   [by analogy with George Orwell's `thought police'] A mythical team of

   Gestapo-like storm troopers that might burst into one's office and

   arrest one for violating programming style rules. May be used either

   seriously, to underline a claim that a particular style violation is

   dangerous, or ironically, to suggest that the practice under

   discussion is condemned mainly by anal-retentive [2772]weenies. "Dike

   out that goto or the code police will get you!" The ironic usage is

   perhaps more common.



   Node:codes, Next:[2773]codewalker, Previous:[2774]code police,

   Up:[2775]= C =


   codes n.


   [scientific computing] Programs. This usage is common in people who

   hack supercomputers and heavy-duty [2776]number-crunching, rare to

   unknown elsewhere (if you say "codes" to hackers outside scientific

   computing, their first association is likely to be "and cyphers").



   Node:codewalker, Next:[2777]coefficient of X, Previous:[2778]codes,

   Up:[2779]= C =


   codewalker n.


   A program component that traverses other programs for a living.

   Compilers have codewalkers in their front ends; so do cross-reference

   generators and some database front ends. Other utility programs that

   try to do too much with source code may turn into codewalkers. As in

   "This new vgrind feature would require a codewalker to implement."



   Node:coefficient of X, Next:[2780]cokebottle,

   Previous:[2781]codewalker, Up:[2782]= C =


   coefficient of X n.


   Hackish speech makes heavy use of pseudo-mathematical metaphors. Four

   particularly important ones involve the terms `coefficient', `factor',

   `index of X', and `quotient'. They are often loosely applied to things

   you cannot really be quantitative about, but there are subtle

   distinctions among them that convey information about the way the

   speaker mentally models whatever he or she is describing.


   `Foo factor' and `foo quotient' tend to describe something for which

   the issue is one of presence or absence. The canonical example is

   [2783]fudge factor. It's not important how much you're fudging; the

   term simply acknowledges that some fudging is needed. You might talk

   of liking a movie for its silliness factor. Quotient tends to imply

   that the property is a ratio of two opposing factors: "I would have

   won except for my luck quotient." This could also be "I would have won

   except for the luck factor", but using quotient emphasizes that it was

   bad luck overpowering good luck (or someone else's good luck

   overpowering your own).


   `Foo index' and `coefficient of foo' both tend to imply that foo is,

   if not strictly measurable, at least something that can be larger or

   smaller. Thus, you might refer to a paper or person as having a `high

   bogosity index', whereas you would be less likely to speak of a `high

   bogosity factor'. `Foo index' suggests that foo is a condensation of

   many quantities, as in the mundane cost-of-living index; `coefficient

   of foo' suggests that foo is a fundamental quantity, as in a

   coefficient of friction. The choice between these terms is often one

   of personal preference; e.g., some people might feel that bogosity is

   a fundamental attribute and thus say `coefficient of bogosity',

   whereas others might feel it is a combination of factors and thus say

   `bogosity index'.



   Node:cokebottle, Next:[2784]cold boot, Previous:[2785]coefficient of

   X, Up:[2786]= C =


   cokebottle /kohk'bot-l/ n.


   Any very unusual character, particularly one you can't type because it

   isn't on your keyboard. MIT people used to complain about the

   `control-meta-cokebottle' commands at SAIL, and SAIL people complained

   right back about the `escape-escape-cokebottle' commands at MIT. After

   the demise of the [2787]space-cadet keyboard, `cokebottle' faded away

   as serious usage, but was often invoked humorously to describe an

   (unspecified) weird or non-intuitive keystroke command. It may be due

   for a second inning, however. The OSF/Motif window manager, mwm(1),

   has a reserved keystroke for switching to the default set of

   keybindings and behavior. This keystroke is (believe it or not)

   `control-meta-bang' (see [2788]bang). Since the exclamation point

   looks a lot like an upside down Coke bottle, Motif hackers have begun

   referring to this keystroke as `cokebottle'. See also [2789]quadruple




   Node:cold boot, Next:[2790]COME FROM, Previous:[2791]cokebottle,

   Up:[2792]= C =


   cold boot n.


   See [2793]boot.



   Node:COME FROM, Next:[2794]comm mode, Previous:[2795]cold boot,

   Up:[2796]= C =




   A semi-mythical language construct dual to the `go to'; COME FROM

   <label> would cause the referenced label to act as a sort of trapdoor,

   so that if the program ever reached it control would quietly and

   [2797]automagically be transferred to the statement following the COME

   FROM. COME FROM was first proposed in R. Lawrence Clark's "A

   Linguistic Contribution to GOTO-less programming", which appeared in a

   1973 [2798]Datamation issue (and was reprinted in the April 1984 issue

   of "Communications of the ACM"). This parodied the then-raging

   `structured programming' [2799]holy wars (see [2800]considered

   harmful). Mythically, some variants are the `assigned COME FROM' and

   the `computed COME FROM' (parodying some nasty control constructs in

   FORTRAN and some extended BASICs). Of course, multi-tasking (or

   non-determinism) could be implemented by having more than one COME

   FROM statement coming from the same label.


   In some ways the FORTRAN DO looks like a COME FROM statement. After

   the terminating statement number/CONTINUE is reached, control

   continues at the statement following the DO. Some generous FORTRANs

   would allow arbitrary statements (other than CONTINUE) for the

   statement, leading to examples like:

      DO 10 I=1,LIMIT

C imagine many lines of code here, leaving the

C original DO statement lost in the spaghetti...

      WRITE(6,10) I,FROB(I)

 10   FORMAT(1X,I5,G10.4)

   in which the trapdoor is just after the statement labeled 10. (This is

   particularly surprising because the label doesn't appear to have

   anything to do with the flow of control at all!)


   While sufficiently astonishing to the unsuspecting reader, this form

   of COME FROM statement isn't completely general. After all, control

   will eventually pass to the following statement. The implementation of

   the general form was left to Univac FORTRAN, ca. 1975 (though a

   roughly similar feature existed on the IBM 7040 ten years earlier).

   The statement AT 100 would perform a COME FROM 100. It was intended

   strictly as a debugging aid, with dire consequences promised to anyone

   so deranged as to use it in production code. More horrible things had

   already been perpetrated in production languages, however; doubters

   need only contemplate the ALTER verb in [2801]COBOL.


   COME FROM was supported under its own name for the first time 15 years

   later, in C-INTERCAL (see [2802]INTERCAL, [2803]retrocomputing);

   knowledgeable observers are still reeling from the shock.



   Node:comm mode, Next:[2804]command key, Previous:[2805]COME FROM,

   Up:[2806]= C =


   comm mode /kom mohd/ n.


   [ITS: from the feature supporting on-line chat; the term may spelled

   with one or two m's] Syn. for [2807]talk mode.



   Node:command key, Next:[2808]comment out, Previous:[2809]comm mode,

   Up:[2810]= C =


   command key n.


   [Mac users] Syn. [2811]feature key.



   Node:comment out, Next:[2812]Commonwealth Hackish,

   Previous:[2813]command key, Up:[2814]= C =


   comment out vt.


   To surround a section of code with comment delimiters or to prefix

   every line in the section with a comment marker; this prevents it from

   being compiled or interpreted. Often done when the code is redundant

   or obsolete, but is being left in the source to make the intent of the

   active code clearer; also when the code in that section is broken and

   you want to bypass it in order to debug some other part of the code.

   Compare [2815]condition out, usually the preferred technique in

   languages (such as [2816]C) that make it possible.



   Node:Commonwealth Hackish, Next:[2817]compact, Previous:[2818]comment

   out, Up:[2819]= C =


   Commonwealth Hackish n.


   Hacker jargon as spoken in English outside the U.S., esp. in the

   British Commonwealth. It is reported that Commonwealth speakers are

   more likely to pronounce truncations like `char' and `soc', etc., as

   spelled (/char/, /sok/), as opposed to American /keir/ and /sohsh/.

   Dots in [2820]newsgroup names (especially two-component names) tend to

   be pronounced more often (so soc.wibble is /sok dot wib'l/ rather than

   /sohsh wib'l/).


   Preferred [2821]metasyntactic variables include [2822]blurgle, eek,

   ook, frodo, and bilbo; [2823]wibble, wobble, and in emergencies

   wubble; flob, banana, tom, dick, harry, wombat, frog, [2824]fish,

   [2825]womble and so on and on (see [2826]foo, sense 4). Alternatives

   to verb doubling include suffixes `-o-rama', `frenzy' (as in feeding

   frenzy), and `city' (examples: "barf city!" "hack-o-rama!" "core dump



   All the generic differences within the anglophone world inevitably

   show themselves in the associated hackish dialects. The Greek letters

   beta and zeta are usually pronounced /bee't*/ and /zee't*/; meta may

   also be pronounced /mee't*/. Various punctuators (and even letters - Z

   is called `zed', not `zee') are named differently: most crucially, for

   hackish, where Americans use `parens', `brackets' and `braces' for (),

   [] and {}, Commonwealth English uses `brackets', `square brackets' and

   `curly brackets', though `parentheses' may be used for the first; the

   exclamation mark, `!', is called pling rather than bang and the pound

   sign, `#', is called hash; furthermore, the term `the pound sign' is

   understood to mean the pound currency symbol (of course).


   See also [2827]attoparsec, [2828]calculator, [2829]chemist,

   [2830]console jockey, [2831]fish, [2832]go-faster stripes,

   [2833]grunge, [2834]hakspek, [2835]heavy metal, [2836]leaky heap,

   [2837]lord high fixer, [2838]loose bytes, [2839]muddie, [2840]nadger,

   [2841]noddy, [2842]psychedelicware, [2843]plingnet, [2844]raster

   blaster, [2845]RTBM, [2846]seggie, [2847]spod, [2848]sun lounge,

   [2849]terminal junkie, [2850]tick-list features, [2851]weeble,

   [2852]weasel, [2853]YABA, and notes or definitions under [2854]Bad

   Thing, [2855]barf, [2856]bogus, [2857]bum, [2858]chase pointers,

   [2859]cosmic rays, [2860]crippleware, [2861]crunch, [2862]dodgy,

   [2863]gonk, [2864]hamster, [2865]hardwarily, [2866]mess-dos,

   [2867]nybble, [2868]proglet, [2869]root, [2870]SEX, [2871]tweak,

   [2872]womble, and [2873]xyzzy.



   Node:compact, Next:[2874]compiler jock, Previous:[2875]Commonwealth

   Hackish, Up:[2876]= C =


   compact adj.


   Of a design, describes the valuable property that it can all be

   apprehended at once in one's head. This generally means the thing

   created from the design can be used with greater facility and fewer

   errors than an equivalent tool that is not compact. Compactness does

   not imply triviality or lack of power; for example, C is compact and

   FORTRAN is not, but C is more powerful than FORTRAN. Designs become

   non-compact through accreting [2877]features and [2878]cruft that

   don't merge cleanly into the overall design scheme (thus, some fans of

   [2879]Classic C maintain that ANSI C is no longer compact).



   Node:compiler jock, Next:[2880]compo, Previous:[2881]compact,

   Up:[2882]= C =


   compiler jock n.


   See [2883]jock (sense 2).



   Node:compo, Next:[2884]compress, Previous:[2885]compiler jock,

   Up:[2886]= C =


   compo n.


   [[2887]demoscene] Finnish-originated slang for `competition'. Demo

   compos are held at a [2888]demoparty. The usual protocol is that

   several groups make demos for a compo, they are shown on a big screen,

   and then the party participants vote for the best one. Prizes (from

   sponsors and party entrance fees) are given. Standard compo formats

   include [2889]intro compos (4k or 64k demos), music compos, graphics

   compos, quick [2890]demo compos (build a demo within 4 hours for

   example), etc.



   Node:compress, Next:[2891]Compu$erve, Previous:[2892]compo, Up:[2893]=

   C =


   compress [Unix] vt.


   When used without a qualifier, generally refers to [2894]crunching of

   a file using a particular C implementation of compression by Joseph M.

   Orost et al. and widely circulated via [2895]Usenet; use of

   [2896]crunch itself in this sense is rare among Unix hackers.

   Specifically, compress is built around the Lempel-Ziv-Welch algorithm

   as described in "A Technique for High Performance Data Compression",

   Terry A. Welch, "IEEE Computer", vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1984), pp. 8-19.



   Node:Compu$erve, Next:[2897]computer confetti,

   Previous:[2898]compress, Up:[2899]= C =


   Compu$erve n.


   See [2900]CI$. Synonyms CompuSpend and Compu$pend are also reported.



   Node:computer confetti, Next:[2901]computer geek,

   Previous:[2902]Compu$erve, Up:[2903]= C =


   computer confetti n.


   Syn. [2904]chad. Though this term is common, this use of punched-card

   chad is not a good idea, as the pieces are stiff and have sharp

   corners that could injure the eyes. GLS reports that he once attended

   a wedding at MIT during which he and a few other guests

   enthusiastically threw chad instead of rice. The groom later grumbled

   that he and his bride had spent most of the evening trying to get the

   stuff out of their hair.



   Node:computer geek, Next:[2905]computron, Previous:[2906]computer

   confetti, Up:[2907]= C =


   computer geek n.


   1. One who eats (computer) bugs for a living. One who fulfills all the

   dreariest negative stereotypes about hackers: an asocial, malodorous,

   pasty-faced monomaniac with all the personality of a cheese grater.

   Cannot be used by outsiders without implied insult to all hackers;

   compare black-on-black vs. white-on-black usage of `nigger'. A

   computer geek may be either a fundamentally clueless individual or a

   proto-hacker in [2908]larval stage. Also called `turbo nerd', `turbo

   geek'. See also [2909]propeller head, [2910]clustergeeking, [2911]geek

   out, [2912]wannabee, [2913]terminal junkie, [2914]spod, [2915]weenie.

   2. Some self-described computer geeks use this term in a positive

   sense and protest sense 1 (this seems to have been a post-1990

   development). For one such argument, see

   [2916] See also [2917]geek




   Node:computron, Next:[2918]con, Previous:[2919]computer geek,

   Up:[2920]= C =


   computron /kom'pyoo-tron`/


   n. 1. [common] A notional unit of computing power combining

   instruction speed and storage capacity, dimensioned roughly in

   instructions-per-second times megabytes-of-main-store times

   megabytes-of-mass-storage. "That machine can't run GNU Emacs, it

   doesn't have enough computrons!" This usage is usually found in

   metaphors that treat computing power as a fungible commodity good,

   like a crop yield or diesel horsepower. See [2921]bitty box, [2922]Get

   a real computer!, [2923]toy, [2924]crank. 2. A mythical subatomic

   particle that bears the unit quantity of computation or information,

   in much the same way that an electron bears one unit of electric

   charge (see also [2925]bogon). An elaborate pseudo-scientific theory

   of computrons has been developed based on the physical fact that the

   molecules in a solid object move more rapidly as it is heated. It is

   argued that an object melts because the molecules have lost their

   information about where they are supposed to be (that is, they have

   emitted computrons). This explains why computers get so hot and

   require air conditioning; they use up computrons. Conversely, it

   should be possible to cool down an object by placing it in the path of

   a computron beam. It is believed that this may also explain why

   machines that work at the factory fail in the computer room: the

   computrons there have been all used up by the other hardware. (The

   popularity of this theory probably owes something to the "Warlock"

   stories by Larry Niven, the best known being "What Good is a Glass

   Dagger?", in which magic is fueled by an exhaustible natural resource

   called `mana'.)



   Node:con, Next:[2926]condition out, Previous:[2927]computron,

   Up:[2928]= C =


   con n.


   [from SF fandom] A science-fiction convention. Not used of other sorts

   of conventions, such as professional meetings. This term, unlike many

   others imported from SF-fan slang, is widely recognized even by

   hackers who aren't [2929]fans. "We'd been corresponding on the net for

   months, then we met face-to-face at a con."



   Node:condition out, Next:[2930]condom, Previous:[2931]con, Up:[2932]=

   C =


   condition out vt.


   To prevent a section of code from being compiled by surrounding it

   with a conditional-compilation directive whose condition is always

   false. The [2933]canonical examples of these directives are #if 0 (or

   #ifdef notdef, though some find the latter [2934]bletcherous) and

   #endif in C. Compare [2935]comment out.



   Node:condom, Next:[2936]confuser, Previous:[2937]condition out,

   Up:[2938]= C =


   condom n.


   1. The protective plastic bag that accompanies 3.5-inch microfloppy

   diskettes. Rarely, also used of (paper) disk envelopes. Unlike the

   write protect tab, the condom (when left on) not only impedes the

   practice of [2939]SEX but has also been shown to have a high failure

   rate as drive mechanisms attempt to access the disk -- and can even

   fatally frustrate insertion. 2. The protective cladding on a

   [2940]light pipe. 3. `keyboard condom': A flexible, transparent

   plastic cover for a keyboard, designed to provide some protection

   against dust and [2941]programming fluid without impeding typing. 4.

   `elephant condom': the plastic shipping bags used inside cardboard

   boxes to protect hardware in transit. 5. n. obs. A dummy directory

   /usr/tmp/sh, created to foil the [2942]Great Worm by exploiting a

   portability bug in one of its parts. So named in the title of a

   comp.risks article by Gene Spafford during the Worm crisis, and again

   in the text of "The Internet Worm Program: An Analysis", Purdue

   Technical Report CSD-TR-823.



   Node:confuser, Next:[2943]connector conspiracy, Previous:[2944]condom,

   Up:[2945]= C =


   confuser n.


   Common soundalike slang for `computer'. Usually encountered in

   compounds such as `confuser room', `personal confuser', `confuser

   guru'. Usage: silly.



   Node:connector conspiracy, Next:[2946]cons, Previous:[2947]confuser,

   Up:[2948]= C =


   connector conspiracy n.


   [probably came into prominence with the appearance of the KL-10 (one

   model of the [2949]PDP-10), none of whose connectors matched anything

   else] The tendency of manufacturers (or, by extension, programmers or

   purveyors of anything) to come up with new products that don't fit

   together with the old stuff, thereby making you buy either all new

   stuff or expensive interface devices. The KL-10 Massbus connector was

   actually patented by [2950]DEC, which reputedly refused to license the

   design and thus effectively locked third parties out of competition

   for the lucrative Massbus peripherals market. This policy is a source

   of never-ending frustration for the diehards who maintain older PDP-10

   or VAX systems. Their CPUs work fine, but they are stuck with dying,

   obsolescent disk and tape drives with low capacity and high power



   (A closely related phenomenon, with a slightly different intent, is

   the habit manufacturers have of inventing new screw heads so that only

   Designated Persons, possessing the magic screwdrivers, can remove

   covers and make repairs or install options. A good 1990s example is

   the use of Torx screws for cable-TV set-top boxes. Older Apple

   Macintoshes took this one step further, requiring not only a long Torx

   screwdriver but a specialized case-cracking tool to open the box.)


   In these latter days of open-systems computing this term has fallen

   somewhat into disuse, to be replaced by the observation that

   "Standards are great! There are so many of them to choose from!"

   Compare [2951]backward combatability.



   Node:cons, Next:[2952]considered harmful, Previous:[2953]connector

   conspiracy, Up:[2954]= C =


   cons /konz/ or /kons/


   [from LISP] 1. vt. To add a new element to a specified list, esp. at

   the top. "OK, cons picking a replacement for the console TTY onto the

   agenda." 2. `cons up': vt. To synthesize from smaller pieces: "to cons

   up an example".


   In LISP itself, cons is the most fundamental operation for building

   structures. It takes any two objects and returns a `dot-pair' or

   two-branched tree with one object hanging from each branch. Because

   the result of a cons is an object, it can be used to build binary

   trees of any shape and complexity. Hackers think of it as a sort of

   universal constructor, and that is where the jargon meanings spring




   Node:considered harmful, Next:[2955]console, Previous:[2956]cons,

   Up:[2957]= C =


   considered harmful adj.


   [very common] Edsger W. Dijkstra's note in the March 1968

   "Communications of the ACM", "Goto Statement Considered Harmful",

   fired the first salvo in the structured programming wars (text at

   [2958] Amusingly, the ACM considered the

   resulting acrimony sufficiently harmful that it will (by policy) no

   longer print an article taking so assertive a position against a

   coding practice. (Years afterwards, a contrary view was uttered in a

   CACM letter called, inevitably, "`Goto considered harmful' considered

   harmful'"'. In the ensuing decades, a large number of both serious

   papers and parodies have borne titles of the form "X considered Y".

   The structured-programming wars eventually blew over with the

   realization that both sides were wrong, but use of such titles has

   remained as a persistent minor in-joke (the `considered silly' found

   at various places in this lexicon is related).



   Node:console, Next:[2959]console jockey, Previous:[2960]considered

   harmful, Up:[2961]= C =


   console n.


   1. The operator's station of a [2962]mainframe. In times past, this

   was a privileged location that conveyed godlike powers to anyone with

   fingers on its keys. Under Unix and other modern timesharing OSes,

   such privileges are guarded by passwords instead, and the console is

   just the [2963]tty the system was booted from. Some of the mystique

   remains, however, and it is traditional for sysadmins to post urgent

   messages to all users from the console (on Unix, /dev/console). 2. On

   microcomputer Unix boxes, the main screen and keyboard (as opposed to

   character-only terminals talking to a serial port). Typically only the

   console can do real graphics or run [2964]X.



   Node:console jockey, Next:[2965]content-free, Previous:[2966]console,

   Up:[2967]= C =


   console jockey n.


   See [2968]terminal junkie.



   Node:content-free, Next:[2969]control-C, Previous:[2970]console

   jockey, Up:[2971]= C =


   content-free adj.


   [by analogy with techspeak `context-free'] Used of a message that adds

   nothing to the recipient's knowledge. Though this adjective is

   sometimes applied to [2972]flamage, it more usually connotes derision

   for communication styles that exalt form over substance or are

   centered on concerns irrelevant to the subject ostensibly at hand.

   Perhaps most used with reference to speeches by company presidents and

   other professional manipulators. "Content-free? Uh... that's anything

   printed on glossy paper." (See also [2973]four-color glossies.) "He

   gave a talk on the implications of electronic networks for

   postmodernism and the fin-de-siecle aesthetic. It was content-free."



   Node:control-C, Next:[2974]control-O, Previous:[2975]content-free,

   Up:[2976]= C =


   control-C vi.


   1. "Stop whatever you are doing." From the interrupt character used on

   many operating systems to abort a running program. Considered silly.

   2. interj. Among BSD Unix hackers, the canonical humorous response to

   "Give me a break!"



   Node:control-O, Next:[2977]control-Q, Previous:[2978]control-C,

   Up:[2979]= C =


   control-O vi.


   "Stop talking." From the character used on some operating systems to

   abort output but allow the program to keep on running. Generally means

   that you are not interested in hearing anything more from that person,

   at least on that topic; a standard response to someone who is flaming.

   Considered silly. Compare [2980]control-S.



   Node:control-Q, Next:[2981]control-S, Previous:[2982]control-O,

   Up:[2983]= C =


   control-Q vi.


   "Resume." From the ASCII DC1 or [2984]XON character (the pronunciation

   /X-on/ is therefore also used), used to undo a previous




   Node:control-S, Next:[2986]Conway's Law, Previous:[2987]control-Q,

   Up:[2988]= C =


   control-S vi.


   "Stop talking for a second." From the ASCII DC3 or XOFF character (the

   pronunciation /X-of/ is therefore also used). Control-S differs from

   [2989]control-O in that the person is asked to stop talking (perhaps

   because you are on the phone) but will be allowed to continue when

   you're ready to listen to him -- as opposed to control-O, which has

   more of the meaning of "Shut up." Considered silly.



   Node:Conway's Law, Next:[2990]cookbook, Previous:[2991]control-S,

   Up:[2992]= C =


   Conway's Law prov.


   The rule that the organization of the software and the organization of

   the software team will be congruent; commonly stated as "If you have

   four groups working on a compiler, you'll get a 4-pass compiler". The

   original statement was more general, "Organizations which design

   systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the

   communication structures of these organizations." This first appeared

   in the April 1968 issue of [2993]Datamation. Compare [2994]SNAFU



   The law was named after Melvin Conway, an early proto-hacker who wrote

   an assembler for the Burroughs 220 called SAVE. (The name `SAVE'

   didn't stand for anything; it was just that you lost fewer card decks

   and listings because they all had SAVE written on them.)


   There is also Tom Cheatham's amendment of Conway's Law: "If a group of

   N persons implements a COBOL compiler, there will be N-1 passes.

   Someone in the group has to be the manager."



   Node:cookbook, Next:[2995]cooked mode, Previous:[2996]Conway's Law,

   Up:[2997]= C =


   cookbook n.


   [from amateur electronics and radio] A book of small code segments

   that the reader can use to do various [2998]magic things in programs.

   One current example is the "[2999]PostScript Language Tutorial and

   Cookbook" by Adobe Systems, Inc (Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10179-3),

   also known as the [3000]Blue Book which has recipes for things like

   wrapping text around arbitrary curves and making 3D fonts. Cookbooks,

   slavishly followed, can lead one into [3001]voodoo programming, but

   are useful for hackers trying to [3002]monkey up small programs in

   unknown languages. This function is analogous to the role of

   phrasebooks in human languages.



   Node:cooked mode, Next:[3003]cookie, Previous:[3004]cookbook,

   Up:[3005]= C =


   cooked mode n.


   [Unix, by opposition from [3006]raw mode] The normal character-input

   mode, with interrupts enabled and with erase, kill and other

   special-character interpretations performed directly by the tty

   driver. Oppose [3007]raw mode, [3008]rare mode. This term is techspeak

   under Unix but jargon elsewhere; other operating systems often have

   similar mode distinctions, and the raw/rare/cooked way of describing

   them has spread widely along with the C language and other Unix

   exports. Most generally, `cooked mode' may refer to any mode of a

   system that does extensive preprocessing before presenting data to a




   Node:cookie, Next:[3009]cookie bear, Previous:[3010]cooked mode,

   Up:[3011]= C =


   cookie n.


   A handle, transaction ID, or other token of agreement between

   cooperating programs. "I give him a packet, he gives me back a

   cookie." The claim check you get from a dry-cleaning shop is a perfect

   mundane example of a cookie; the only thing it's useful for is to

   relate a later transaction to this one (so you get the same clothes

   back). Compare [3012]magic cookie; see also [3013]fortune cookie. Now

   mainstream in the specific sense of web-browser cookies.



   Node:cookie bear, Next:[3014]cookie file, Previous:[3015]cookie,

   Up:[3016]= C =


   cookie bear n. obs.


   Original term, pre-Sesame-Street, for what is now universally called a

   [3017]cookie monster. A correspondent observes "In those days, hackers

   were actually getting their yucks from...sit down now...Andy Williams.

   Yes, that Andy Williams. Seems he had a rather hip (by the standards

   of the day) TV variety show. One of the best parts of the show was the

   recurring `cookie bear' sketch. In these sketches, a guy in a bear

   suit tried all sorts of tricks to get a cookie out of Williams. The

   sketches would always end with Williams shrieking (and I don't mean

   figuratively), `No cookies! Not now, not ever...NEVER!!!' And the bear

   would fall down. Great stuff."



   Node:cookie file, Next:[3018]cookie jar, Previous:[3019]cookie bear,

   Up:[3020]= C =


   cookie file n.


   A collection of [3021]fortune cookies in a format that facilitates

   retrieval by a fortune program. There are several different cookie

   files in public distribution, and site admins often assemble their own

   from various sources including this lexicon.



   Node:cookie jar, Next:[3022]cookie monster, Previous:[3023]cookie

   file, Up:[3024]= C =


   cookie jar n.


   An area of memory set aside for storing [3025]cookies. Most commonly

   heard in the Atari ST community; many useful ST programs record their

   presence by storing a distinctive [3026]magic number in the jar.

   Programs can inquire after the presence or otherwise of other programs

   by searching the contents of the jar.



   Node:cookie monster, Next:[3027]copious free time,

   Previous:[3028]cookie jar, Up:[3029]= C =


   cookie monster n.


   [from the children's TV program "Sesame Street"] Any of a family of

   early (1970s) hacks reported on [3030]TOPS-10, [3031]ITS,

   [3032]Multics, and elsewhere that would lock up either the victim's

   terminal (on a time-sharing machine) or the [3033]console (on a batch

   [3034]mainframe), repeatedly demanding "I WANT A COOKIE". The required

   responses ranged in complexity from "COOKIE" through "HAVE A COOKIE"

   and upward. Folklorist Jan Brunvand (see [3035]FOAF) has described

   these programs as urban legends (implying they probably never existed)

   but they existed, all right, in several different versions. See also

   [3036]wabbit. Interestingly, the term `cookie monster' appears to be a

   [3037]retcon; the original term was [3038]cookie bear.



   Node:copious free time, Next:[3039]copper, Previous:[3040]cookie

   monster, Up:[3041]= C =


   copious free time n.


   [Apple; orig. fr. the intro to Tom Lehrer's song "It Makes A Fellow

   Proud To Be A Soldier"] 1. [used ironically to indicate the speaker's

   lack of the quantity in question] A mythical schedule slot for

   accomplishing tasks held to be unlikely or impossible. Sometimes used

   to indicate that the speaker is interested in accomplishing the task,

   but believes that the opportunity will not arise. "I'll implement the

   automatic layout stuff in my copious free time." 2. [Archly] Time

   reserved for bogus or otherwise idiotic tasks, such as implementation

   of [3042]chrome, or the stroking of [3043]suits. "I'll get back to him

   on that feature in my copious free time."



   Node:copper, Next:[3044]copy protection, Previous:[3045]copious free

   time, Up:[3046]= C =


   copper n.


   Conventional electron-carrying network cable with a core conductor of

   copper -- or aluminum! Opposed to [3047]light pipe or, say, a

   short-range microwave link.



   Node:copy protection, Next:[3048]copybroke, Previous:[3049]copper,

   Up:[3050]= C =


   copy protection n.


   A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing

   software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.



   Node:copybroke, Next:[3051]copycenter, Previous:[3052]copy protection,

   Up:[3053]= C =


   copybroke /kop'ee-brohk/ adj.


   1. [play on `copyright'] Used to describe an instance of a

   copy-protected program that has been `broken'; that is, a copy with

   the copy-protection scheme disabled. Syn. [3054]copywronged. 2.

   Copy-protected software which is unusable because of some bit-rot or

   bug that has confused the anti-piracy check. See also [3055]copy




   Node:copycenter, Next:[3056]copyleft, Previous:[3057]copybroke,

   Up:[3058]= C =


   copycenter n.


   [play on `copyright' and `copyleft'] 1. The copyright notice carried

   by the various flavors of freeware BSD. According to Kirk McKusick at

   BSDCon 1999: "The way it was characterized politically, you had

   copyright, which is what the big companies use to lock everything up;

   you had copyleft, which is free software's way of making sure they

   can't lock it up; and then Berkeley had what we called "copycenter",

   which is "take it down to the copy center and make as many copies as

   you want".



   Node:copyleft, Next:[3059]copyparty, Previous:[3060]copycenter,

   Up:[3061]= C =


   copyleft /kop'ee-left/ n.


   [play on `copyright'] 1. The copyright notice (`General Public

   License') carried by [3062]GNU [3063]EMACS and other Free Software

   Foundation software, granting reuse and reproduction rights to all

   comers (but see also [3064]General Public Virus). 2. By extension, any

   copyright notice intended to achieve similar aims.



   Node:copyparty, Next:[3065]copywronged, Previous:[3066]copyleft,

   Up:[3067]= C =


   copyparty n.


   [C64/amiga [3068]demoscene ]A computer party organized so demosceners

   can meet other in real life, and to facilitate software copying

   (mostly pirated software). The copyparty has become less common as the

   Internet makes communication easier. The demoscene has gradually

   evolved the [3069]demoparty to replace it.



   Node:copywronged, Next:[3070]core, Previous:[3071]copyparty,

   Up:[3072]= C =


   copywronged /kop'ee-rongd/ adj.


   [play on `copyright'] Syn. for [3073]copybroke.



   Node:core, Next:[3074]core cancer, Previous:[3075]copywronged,

   Up:[3076]= C =


   core n.


   Main storage or RAM. Dates from the days of ferrite-core memory; now

   archaic as techspeak most places outside IBM, but also still used in

   the Unix community and by old-time hackers or those who would sound

   like them. Some derived idioms are quite current; `in core', for

   example, means `in memory' (as opposed to `on disk'), and both

   [3077]core dump and the `core image' or `core file' produced by one

   are terms in favor. Some varieties of Commonwealth hackish prefer




   Node:core cancer, Next:[3079]core dump, Previous:[3080]core,

   Up:[3081]= C =


   core cancer n.


   [rare] A process that exhibits a slow but inexorable resource

   [3082]leak -- like a cancer, it kills by crowding out productive




   Node:core dump, Next:[3083]core leak, Previous:[3084]core cancer,

   Up:[3085]= C =


   core dump n.


   [common [3086]Iron Age jargon, preserved by Unix] 1. [techspeak] A

   copy of the contents of [3087]core, produced when a process is aborted

   by certain kinds of internal error. 2. By extension, used for humans

   passing out, vomiting, or registering extreme shock. "He dumped core.

   All over the floor. What a mess." "He heard about X and dumped core."

   3. Occasionally used for a human rambling on pointlessly at great

   length; esp. in apology: "Sorry, I dumped core on you". 4. A

   recapitulation of knowledge (compare [3088]bits, sense 1). Hence,

   spewing all one knows about a topic (syn. [3089]brain dump), esp. in a

   lecture or answer to an exam question. "Short, concise answers are

   better than core dumps" (from the instructions to an exam at

   Columbia). See [3090]core.



   Node:core leak, Next:[3091]Core Wars, Previous:[3092]core dump,

   Up:[3093]= C =


   core leak n.


   Syn. [3094]memory leak.



   Node:Core Wars, Next:[3095]corge, Previous:[3096]core leak, Up:[3097]=

   C =


   Core Wars n.


   A game between `assembler' programs in a machine or machine simulator,

   where the objective is to kill your opponent's program by overwriting

   it. Popularized in the 1980s by A. K. Dewdney's column in "Scientific

   American" magazine, but described in "Software Practice And

   Experience" a decade earlier. The game was actually devised and played

   by Victor Vyssotsky, Robert Morris Sr., and Doug McIlroy in the early

   1960s (Dennis Ritchie is sometimes incorrectly cited as a co-author,

   but was not involved). Their original game was called `Darwin' and ran

   on a IBM 7090 at Bell Labs. See [3098]core. For information on the

   modern game, do a web search for the ` FAQ' or surf

   to the [3099]King Of The Hill site.



   Node:corge, Next:[3100]cosmic rays, Previous:[3101]Core Wars,

   Up:[3102]= C =


   corge /korj/ n.


   [originally, the name of a cat] Yet another [3103]metasyntactic

   variable, invented by Mike Gallaher and propagated by the

   [3104]GOSMACS documentation. See [3105]grault.



   Node:cosmic rays, Next:[3106]cough and die, Previous:[3107]corge,

   Up:[3108]= C =


   cosmic rays n.


   Notionally, the cause of [3109]bit rot. However, this is a

   semi-independent usage that may be invoked as a humorous way to

   [3110]handwave away any minor [3111]randomness that doesn't seem worth

   the bother of investigating. "Hey, Eric -- I just got a burst of

   garbage on my [3112]tube, where did that come from?" "Cosmic rays, I

   guess." Compare [3113]sunspots, [3114]phase of the moon. The British

   seem to prefer the usage `cosmic showers'; `alpha particles' is also

   heard, because stray alpha particles passing through a memory chip can

   cause single-bit errors (this becomes increasingly more likely as

   memory sizes and densities increase).


   Factual note: Alpha particles cause bit rot, cosmic rays do not

   (except occasionally in spaceborne computers). Intel could not explain

   random bit drops in their early chips, and one hypothesis was cosmic

   rays. So they created the World's Largest Lead Safe, using 25 tons of

   the stuff, and used two identical boards for testing. One was placed

   in the safe, one outside. The hypothesis was that if cosmic rays were

   causing the bit drops, they should see a statistically significant

   difference between the error rates on the two boards. They did not

   observe such a difference. Further investigation demonstrated

   conclusively that the bit drops were due to alpha particle emissions

   from thorium (and to a much lesser degree uranium) in the

   encapsulation material. Since it is impossible to eliminate these

   radioactives (they are uniformly distributed through the earth's

   crust, with the statistically insignificant exception of uranium

   lodes) it became obvious that one has to design memories to withstand

   these hits.



   Node:cough and die, Next:[3115]courier, Previous:[3116]cosmic rays,

   Up:[3117]= C =


   cough and die v.


   Syn. [3118]barf. Connotes that the program is throwing its hands up by

   design rather than because of a bug or oversight. "The parser saw a

   control-A in its input where it was looking for a printable, so it

   coughed and died." Compare [3119]die, [3120]die horribly, [3121]scream

   and die.



   Node:courier, Next:[3122]cow orker, Previous:[3123]cough and die,

   Up:[3124]= C =




   [BBS & cracker cultures] A person who distributes newly cracked

   [3125]warez, as opposed to a [3126]server who makes them available for

   download or a [3127]leech who merely downloads them. Hackers recognize

   this term but don't use it themselves, as the act is not part of their

   culture. See also [3128]warez d00dz, [3129]cracker, [3130]elite.



   Node:cow orker, Next:[3131]cowboy, Previous:[3132]courier, Up:[3133]=

   C =


   cow orker n.


   [Usenet] n. fortuitous typo for co-worker, widely used in Usenet, with

   perhaps a hint that orking cows is illegal. This term was popularized

   by Scott Adams (the creator of [3134]Dilbert) but already appears in

   the January 1996 version of the [3135]scary devil monastery FAQ. There

   are plausible reports that it was in use on talk.bizarre as early as

   1992. Compare [3136]hing, [3137]grilf, [3138]filk, [3139]newsfroup.



   Node:cowboy, Next:[3140]CP/M, Previous:[3141]cow orker, Up:[3142]= C =


   cowboy n.


   [Sun, from William Gibson's [3143]cyberpunk SF] Synonym for

   [3144]hacker. It is reported that at Sun this word is often said with




   Node:CP/M, Next:[3145]CPU Wars, Previous:[3146]cowboy, Up:[3147]= C =


   CP/M /C-P-M/ n.


   [Control Program/Monitor; later [3148]retconned to Control Program for

   Microcomputers] An early microcomputer [3149]OS written by hacker Gary

   Kildall for 8080- and Z80-based machines, very popular in the late

   1970s but virtually wiped out by MS-DOS after the release of the IBM

   PC in 1981. Legend has it that Kildall's company blew its chance to

   write the OS for the IBM PC because Kildall decided to spend a day

   IBM's reps wanted to meet with him enjoying the perfect flying weather

   in his private plane. Many of CP/M's features and conventions strongly

   resemble those of early [3150]DEC operating systems such as

   [3151]TOPS-10, OS/8, RSTS, and RSX-11. See [3152]MS-DOS,

   [3153]operating system.



   Node:CPU Wars, Next:[3154]crack, Previous:[3155]CP/M, Up:[3156]= C =


   CPU Wars /C-P-U worz/ n.


   A 1979 large-format comic by Chas Andres chronicling the attempts of

   the brainwashed androids of IPM (Impossible to Program Machines) to

   conquer and destroy the peaceful denizens of HEC (Human Engineered

   Computers). This rather transparent allegory featured many references

   to [3157]ADVENT and the immortal line "Eat flaming death, minicomputer

   mongrels!" (uttered, of course, by an IPM stormtrooper). The whole

   shebang is now [3158]available on the Web.


   It is alleged that the author subsequently received a letter of

   appreciation on IBM company stationery from the head of IBM's Thomas

   J. Watson Research Laboratories (then, as now, one of the few islands

   of true hackerdom in the IBM archipelago). The lower loop of the B in

   the IBM logo, it is said, had been carefully whited out. See [3159]eat

   flaming death.



   Node:crack, Next:[3160]crack root, Previous:[3161]CPU Wars, Up:[3162]=

   C =




   [warez d00dz] 1. v. To break into a system (compare [3163]cracker). 2.

   v. Action of removing the copy protection from a commercial program.

   People who write cracks consider themselves challenged by the copy

   protection measures. They will often do it as much to show that they

   are smarter than the developper who designed the copy protection

   scheme than to actually copy the program. 3. n. A program,

   instructions or patch used to remove the copy protection of a program

   or to uncripple features from a demo/time limited program. 4. An




   Node:crack root, Next:[3165]cracker, Previous:[3166]crack, Up:[3167]=

   C =


   crack root v.


   [very common] To defeat the security system of a Unix machine and gain

   [3168]root privileges thereby; see [3169]cracking.



   Node:cracker, Next:[3170]cracking, Previous:[3171]crack root,

   Up:[3172]= C =


   cracker n.


   One who breaks security on a system. Coined ca. 1985 by hackers in

   defense against journalistic misuse of [3173]hacker (q.v., sense 8).

   An earlier attempt to establish `worm' in this sense around 1981-82 on

   Usenet was largely a failure.


   Use of both these neologisms reflects a strong revulsion against the

   theft and vandalism perpetrated by cracking rings. While it is

   expected that any real hacker will have done some playful cracking and

   knows many of the basic techniques, anyone past [3174]larval stage is

   expected to have outgrown the desire to do so except for immediate,

   benign, practical reasons (for example, if it's necessary to get

   around some security in order to get some work done).


   Thus, there is far less overlap between hackerdom and crackerdom than

   the [3175]mundane reader misled by sensationalistic journalism might

   expect. Crackers tend to gather in small, tight-knit, very secretive

   groups that have little overlap with the huge, open poly-culture this

   lexicon describes; though crackers often like to describe themselves

   as hackers, most true hackers consider them a separate and lower form

   of life.


   Ethical considerations aside, hackers figure that anyone who can't

   imagine a more interesting way to play with their computers than

   breaking into someone else's has to be pretty [3176]losing. Some other

   reasons crackers are looked down on are discussed in the entries on

   [3177]cracking and [3178]phreaking. See also [3179]samurai,

   [3180]dark-side hacker, and [3181]hacker ethic. For a portrait of the

   typical teenage cracker, see [3182]warez d00dz.



   Node:cracking, Next:[3183]crank, Previous:[3184]cracker, Up:[3185]= C



   cracking n.


   [very common] The act of breaking into a computer system; what a

   [3186]cracker does. Contrary to widespread myth, this does not usually

   involve some mysterious leap of hackerly brilliance, but rather

   persistence and the dogged repetition of a handful of fairly

   well-known tricks that exploit common weaknesses in the security of

   target systems. Accordingly, most crackers are only mediocre hackers.



   Node:crank, Next:[3187]crapplet, Previous:[3188]cracking, Up:[3189]= C



   crank vt.


   [from automotive slang] Verb used to describe the performance of a

   machine, especially sustained performance. "This box cranks (or,

   cranks at) about 6 megaflops, with a burst mode of twice that on

   vectorized operations."



   Node:crapplet, Next:[3190]CrApTeX, Previous:[3191]crank, Up:[3192]= C



   crapplet n.


   [portmanteau, crap + applet] A worthless applet, esp. a Java widget

   attached to a web page that doesn't work or even crashes your browser.

   Also spelled `craplet'.



   Node:CrApTeX, Next:[3193]crash, Previous:[3194]crapplet, Up:[3195]= C



   CrApTeX /krap'tekh/ n.


   [University of York, England] Term of abuse used to describe TeX and

   LaTeX when they don't work (when used by TeXhackers), or all the time

   (by everyone else). The non-TeX-enthusiasts generally dislike it

   because it is more verbose than other formatters (e.g. [3196]troff)

   and because (particularly if the standard Computer Modern fonts are

   used) it generates vast output files. See [3197]religious issues,




   Node:crash, Next:[3199]crash and burn, Previous:[3200]CrApTeX,

   Up:[3201]= C =




   1. n. A sudden, usually drastic failure. Most often said of the

   [3202]system (q.v., sense 1), esp. of magnetic disk drives (the term

   originally described what happens when the air gap of a hard disk

   collapses). "Three [3203]lusers lost their files in last night's disk

   crash." A disk crash that involves the read/write heads dropping onto

   the surface of the disks and scraping off the oxide may also be

   referred to as a `head crash', whereas the term `system crash'

   usually, though not always, implies that the operating system or other

   software was at fault. 2. v. To fail suddenly. "Has the system just

   crashed?" "Something crashed the OS!" See [3204]down. Also used

   transitively to indicate the cause of the crash (usually a person or a

   program, or both). "Those idiots playing [3205]SPACEWAR crashed the

   system." 3. vi. Sometimes said of people hitting the sack after a long

   [3206]hacking run; see [3207]gronk out.



   Node:crash and burn, Next:[3208]crawling horror, Previous:[3209]crash,

   Up:[3210]= C =


   crash and burn vi.,n.


   A spectacular crash, in the mode of the conclusion of the car-chase

   scene in the movie "Bullitt" and many subsequent imitators (compare

   [3211]die horribly). Sun-3 monitors losing the flyback transformer and

   lightning strikes on VAX-11/780 backplanes are notable crash and burn

   generators. The construction `crash-and-burn machine' is reported for

   a computer used exclusively for alpha or [3212]beta testing, or

   reproducing bugs (i.e., not for development). The implication is that

   it wouldn't be such a disaster if that machine crashed, since only the

   testers would be inconvenienced.



   Node:crawling horror, Next:[3213]cray, Previous:[3214]crash and burn,

   Up:[3215]= C =


   crawling horror n.


   Ancient crufty hardware or software that is kept obstinately alive by

   forces beyond the control of the hackers at a site. Like [3216]dusty

   deck or [3217]gonkulator, but connotes that the thing described is not

   just an irritation but an active menace to health and sanity. "Mostly

   we code new stuff in C, but they pay us to maintain one big FORTRAN II

   application from nineteen-sixty-X that's a real crawling horror...."

   Compare [3218]WOMBAT.



   Node:cray, Next:[3219]cray instability, Previous:[3220]crawling

   horror, Up:[3221]= C =


   cray /kray/ n.


   1. (properly, capitalized) One of the line of supercomputers designed

   by Cray Research. 2. Any supercomputer at all. 3. The [3222]canonical

   [3223]number-crunching machine.


   The term is actually the lowercased last name of Seymour Cray, a noted

   computer architect and co-founder of the company. Numerous vivid

   legends surround him, some true and some admittedly invented by Cray

   Research brass to shape their corporate culture and image.



   Node:cray instability, Next:[3224]crayola, Previous:[3225]cray,

   Up:[3226]= C =


   cray instability n.


   1. A shortcoming of a program or algorithm that manifests itself only

   when a large problem is being run on a powerful machine (see

   [3227]cray). Generally more subtle than bugs that can be detected in

   smaller problems running on a workstation or mini. 2. More

   specifically, a shortcoming of algorithms which are well behaved when

   run on gentle floating point hardware (such as IEEE-standard or

   PDP-series machines) but which break down badly when exposed to a

   Cray's unique `rounding' rules.



   Node:crayola, Next:[3228]crayola books, Previous:[3229]cray

   instability, Up:[3230]= C =


   crayola /kray-oh'l*/ n.


   A super-mini or -micro computer that provides some reasonable

   percentage of supercomputer performance for an unreasonably low price.

   Might also be a [3231]killer micro.



   Node:crayola books, Next:[3232]crayon, Previous:[3233]crayola,

   Up:[3234]= C =


   crayola books n.


   The [3235]rainbow series of National Computer Security Center (NCSC)

   computer security standards (see [3236]Orange Book). Usage: humorous

   and/or disparaging.



   Node:crayon, Next:[3237]creationism, Previous:[3238]crayola books,

   Up:[3239]= C =


   crayon n.


   1. Someone who works on Cray supercomputers. More specifically, it

   implies a programmer, probably of the CDC ilk, probably male, and

   almost certainly wearing a tie (irrespective of gender). Systems types

   who have a Unix background tend not to be described as crayons. 2.

   Formerly, anyone who worked for Cray Research; since the buyout by

   SGI, anyone they inherited from Cray. 3. A [3240]computron (sense 2)

   that participates only in [3241]number-crunching. 4. A unit of

   computational power equal to that of a single Cray-1. There is a

   standard joke about this usage that derives from an old Crayola crayon

   promotional gimmick: When you buy 64 crayons you get a free sharpener.



   Node:creationism, Next:[3242]creep, Previous:[3243]crayon, Up:[3244]=

   C =


   creationism n.


   The (false) belief that large, innovative software designs can be

   completely specified in advance and then painlessly magicked out of

   the void by the normal efforts of a team of normally talented

   programmers. In fact, experience has shown repeatedly that good

   designs arise only from evolutionary, exploratory interaction between

   one (or at most a small handful of) exceptionally able designer(s) and

   an active user population -- and that the first try at a big new idea

   is always wrong. Unfortunately, because these truths don't fit the

   planning models beloved of [3245]management, they are generally




   Node:creep, Next:[3246]creeping elegance, Previous:[3247]creationism,

   Up:[3248]= C =


   creep v.


   To advance, grow, or multiply inexorably. In hackish usage this verb

   has overtones of menace and silliness, evoking the creeping horrors of

   low-budget monster movies.



   Node:creeping elegance, Next:[3249]creeping featurism,

   Previous:[3250]creep, Up:[3251]= C =


   creeping elegance n.


   Describes a tendency for parts of a design to become [3252]elegant

   past the point of diminishing return, something which often happens at

   the expense of the less interesting parts of the design, the schedule,

   and other things deemed important in the [3253]Real World. See also

   [3254]creeping featurism, [3255]second-system effect, [3256]tense.



   Node:creeping featurism, Next:[3257]creeping featuritis,

   Previous:[3258]creeping elegance, Up:[3259]= C =


   creeping featurism /kree'ping fee'chr-izm/ n.


   [common] 1. Describes a systematic tendency to load more [3260]chrome

   and [3261]features onto systems at the expense of whatever elegance

   they may have possessed when originally designed. See also

   [3262]feeping creaturism. "You know, the main problem with [3263]BSD

   Unix has always been creeping featurism." 2. More generally, the

   tendency for anything complicated to become even more complicated

   because people keep saying "Gee, it would be even better if it had

   this feature too". (See [3264]feature.) The result is usually a

   patchwork because it grew one ad-hoc step at a time, rather than being

   planned. Planning is a lot of work, but it's easy to add just one

   extra little feature to help someone ... and then another ... and

   another.... When creeping featurism gets out of hand, it's like a

   cancer. Usually this term is used to describe computer programs, but

   it could also be said of the federal government, the IRS 1040 form,

   and new cars. A similar phenomenon sometimes afflicts conscious

   redesigns; see [3265]second-system effect. See also [3266]creeping




   Node:creeping featuritis, Next:[3267]cretin, Previous:[3268]creeping

   featurism, Up:[3269]= C =


   creeping featuritis /kree'ping fee'-chr-i:`t*s/ n.


   Variant of [3270]creeping featurism, with its own spoonerization:

   `feeping creaturitis'. Some people like to reserve this form for the

   disease as it actually manifests in software or hardware, as opposed

   to the lurking general tendency in designers' minds. (After all, -ism

   means `condition' or `pursuit of', whereas -itis usually means

   `inflammation of'.)



   Node:cretin, Next:[3271]cretinous, Previous:[3272]creeping featuritis,

   Up:[3273]= C =


   cretin /kret'in/ or /kree'tn/ n.


   Congenital [3274]loser; an obnoxious person; someone who can't do

   anything right. It has been observed that many American hackers tend

   to favor the British pronunciation /kret'in/ over standard American

   /kree'tn/; it is thought this may be due to the insidious phonetic

   influence of Monty Python's Flying Circus.



   Node:cretinous, Next:[3275]crippleware, Previous:[3276]cretin,

   Up:[3277]= C =


   cretinous /kret'n-*s/ or /kreet'n-*s/ adj.


   Wrong; stupid; non-functional; very poorly designed. Also used

   pejoratively of people. See [3278]dread high-bit disease for an

   example. Approximate synonyms: [3279]bletcherous, [3280]bagbiting

   [3281]losing, [3282]brain-damaged.



   Node:crippleware, Next:[3283]critical mass, Previous:[3284]cretinous,

   Up:[3285]= C =


   crippleware n.


   1. [common] Software that has some important functionality

   deliberately removed, so as to entice potential users to pay for a

   working version. 2. [Cambridge] Variety of [3286]guiltware that

   exhorts you to donate to some charity (compare [3287]careware,

   [3288]nagware). 3. Hardware deliberately crippled, which can be

   upgraded to a more expensive model by a trivial change (e.g., cutting

   a jumper).


   An excellent example of crippleware (sense 3) is Intel's 486SX chip,

   which is a standard 486DX chip with the co-processor diked out (in

   some early versions it was present but disabled). To upgrade, you buy

   a complete 486DX chip with working co-processor (its identity thinly

   veiled by a different pinout) and plug it into the board's expansion

   socket. It then disables the SX, which becomes a fancy power sink.

   Don't you love Intel?



   Node:critical mass, Next:[3289]crlf, Previous:[3290]crippleware,

   Up:[3291]= C =


   critical mass n.


   In physics, the minimum amount of fissionable material required to

   sustain a chain reaction. Of a software product, describes a condition

   of the software such that fixing one bug introduces one plus

   [3292]epsilon bugs. (This malady has many causes: [3293]creeping

   featurism, ports to too many disparate environments, poor initial

   design, etc.) When software achieves critical mass, it can never be

   fixed; it can only be discarded and rewritten.



   Node:crlf, Next:[3294]crock, Previous:[3295]critical mass, Up:[3296]=

   C =


   crlf /ker'l*f/, sometimes /kru'l*f/ or /C-R-L-F/ n.


   (often capitalized as `CRLF') A carriage return (CR, ASCII 0001101)

   followed by a line feed (LF, ASCII 0001010). More loosely, whatever it

   takes to get you from the end of one line of text to the beginning of

   the next line. See [3297]newline, [3298]terpri. Under [3299]Unix

   influence this usage has become less common (Unix uses a bare line

   feed as its `CRLF').



   Node:crock, Next:[3300]cross-post, Previous:[3301]crlf, Up:[3302]= C =


   crock n.


   [from the American scatologism `crock of shit'] 1. An awkward feature

   or programming technique that ought to be made cleaner. For example,

   using small integers to represent error codes without the program

   interpreting them to the user (as in, for example, Unix make(1), which

   returns code 139 for a process that dies due to [3303]segfault). 2. A

   technique that works acceptably, but which is quite prone to failure

   if disturbed in the least. For example, a too-clever programmer might

   write an assembler which mapped instruction mnemonics to numeric

   opcodes algorithmically, a trick which depends far too intimately on

   the particular bit patterns of the opcodes. (For another example of

   programming with a dependence on actual opcode values, see [3304]The

   Story of Mel in Appendix A.) Many crocks have a tightly woven, almost

   completely unmodifiable structure. See [3305]kluge, [3306]brittle. The

   adjectives `crockish' and `crocky', and the nouns `crockishness' and

   `crockitude', are also used.



   Node:cross-post, Next:[3307]crossload, Previous:[3308]crock,

   Up:[3309]= C =


   cross-post vi.


   [Usenet; very common] To post a single article simultaneously to

   several newsgroups. Distinguished from posting the article repeatedly,

   once to each newsgroup, which causes people to see it multiple times

   (which is very bad form). Gratuitous cross-posting without a

   Followup-To line directing responses to a single followup group is

   frowned upon, as it tends to cause [3310]followup articles to go to

   inappropriate newsgroups when people respond to only one part of the

   original posting.



   Node:crossload, Next:[3311]crudware, Previous:[3312]cross-post,

   Up:[3313]= C =


   crossload v.,n.


   [proposed, by analogy with [3314]upload and [3315]download] To move

   files between machines on a peer-to-peer network of nodes that act as

   both servers and clients for a distributed file store. Esp.

   appropriate for ananonymized networks like Gnutella and Freenet.



   Node:crudware, Next:[3316]cruft, Previous:[3317]crossload, Up:[3318]=

   C =


   crudware /kruhd'weir/ n.


   Pejorative term for the hundreds of megabytes of low-quality

   [3319]freeware circulated by user's groups and BBS systems in the

   micro-hobbyist world. "Yet another set of disk catalog utilities for

   [3320]MS-DOS? What crudware!"



   Node:cruft, Next:[3321]cruft together, Previous:[3322]crudware,

   Up:[3323]= C =


   cruft /kruhft/


   [very common; back-formation from [3324]crufty] 1. n. An unpleasant

   substance. The dust that gathers under your bed is cruft; the TMRC

   Dictionary correctly noted that attacking it with a broom only

   produces more. 2. n. The results of shoddy construction. 3. vt. [from

   `hand cruft', pun on `hand craft'] To write assembler code for

   something normally (and better) done by a compiler (see

   [3325]hand-hacking). 4. n. Excess; superfluous junk; used esp. of

   redundant or superseded code. 5. [University of Wisconsin] n. Cruft is

   to hackers as gaggle is to geese; that is, at UW one properly says "a

   cruft of hackers".



   Node:cruft together, Next:[3326]cruftsmanship, Previous:[3327]cruft,

   Up:[3328]= C =


   cruft together vt.


   (also `cruft up') To throw together something ugly but temporarily

   workable. Like vt. [3329]kluge up, but more pejorative. "There isn't

   any program now to reverse all the lines of a file, but I can probably

   cruft one together in about 10 minutes." See [3330]hack together,

   [3331]hack up, [3332]kluge up, [3333]crufty.



   Node:cruftsmanship, Next:[3334]crufty, Previous:[3335]cruft together,

   Up:[3336]= C =


   cruftsmanship /kruhfts'm*n-ship / n.


   [from [3337]cruft] The antithesis of craftsmanship.



   Node:crufty, Next:[3338]crumb, Previous:[3339]cruftsmanship,

   Up:[3340]= C =


   crufty /kruhf'tee/ adj.


   [very common; origin unknown; poss. from `crusty' or `cruddy'] 1.

   Poorly built, possibly over-complex. The [3341]canonical example is

   "This is standard old crufty [3342]DEC software". In fact, one

   fanciful theory of the origin of `crufty' holds that was originally a

   mutation of `crusty' applied to DEC software so old that the `s'

   characters were tall and skinny, looking more like `f' characters. 2.

   Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with encrusted junk. Like

   spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and catsup. 3. Generally

   unpleasant. 4. (sometimes spelled `cruftie') n. A small crufty object

   (see [3343]frob); often one that doesn't fit well into the scheme of

   things. "A LISP property list is a good place to store crufties (or,

   collectively, [3344]random cruft)."


   This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of its

   etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at Harvard

   University which is part of the old physics building; it's said to

   have been the physics department's radar lab during WWII. To this day

   (early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random techno-junk. MIT

   or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the term as a knock on the




   Node:crumb, Next:[3345]crunch, Previous:[3346]crufty, Up:[3347]= C =


   crumb n.


   Two binary digits; a [3348]quad. Larger than a [3349]bit, smaller than

   a [3350]nybble. Considered silly. Syn. [3351]tayste. General

   discussion of such terms is under [3352]nybble.



   Node:crunch, Next:[3353]cryppie, Previous:[3354]crumb, Up:[3355]= C =


   crunch 1. vi.


   To process, usually in a time-consuming or complicated way. Connotes

   an essentially trivial operation that is nonetheless painful to

   perform. The pain may be due to the triviality's being embedded in a

   loop from 1 to 1,000,000,000. "FORTRAN programs do mostly

   [3356]number-crunching." 2. vt. To reduce the size of a file by a

   complicated scheme that produces bit configurations completely

   unrelated to the original data, such as by a Huffman code. (The file

   ends up looking something like a paper document would if somebody

   crunched the paper into a wad.) Since such compression usually takes

   more computations than simpler methods such as run-length encoding,

   the term is doubly appropriate. (This meaning is usually used in the

   construction `file crunch(ing)' to distinguish it from

   [3357]number-crunching.) See [3358]compress. 3. n. The character #.

   Used at XEROX and CMU, among other places. See [3359]ASCII. 4. vt. To

   squeeze program source into a minimum-size representation that will

   still compile or execute. The term came into being specifically for a

   famous program on the BBC micro that crunched BASIC source in order to

   make it run more quickly (it was a wholly interpretive BASIC, so the

   number of characters mattered). [3360]Obfuscated C Contest entries are

   often crunched; see the first example under that entry.



   Node:cryppie, Next:[3361]CTSS, Previous:[3362]crunch, Up:[3363]= C =


   cryppie /krip'ee/ n.


   A cryptographer. One who hacks or implements cryptographic software or




   Node:CTSS, Next:[3364]cube, Previous:[3365]cryppie, Up:[3366]= C =


   CTSS /C-T-S-S/ n.


   Compatible Time-Sharing System. An early (1963) experiment in the

   design of interactive time-sharing operating systems, ancestral to

   [3367]Multics, [3368]Unix, and [3369]ITS. The name [3370]ITS

   (Incompatible Time-sharing System) was a hack on CTSS, meant both as a

   joke and to express some basic differences in philosophy about the way

   I/O services should be presented to user programs.



   Node:cube, Next:[3371]cubing, Previous:[3372]CTSS, Up:[3373]= C =


   cube n.


   1. [short for `cubicle'] A module in the open-plan offices used at

   many programming shops. "I've got the manuals in my cube." 2. A NeXT

   machine (which resembles a matte-black cube).



   Node:cubing, Next:[3374]cup holder, Previous:[3375]cube, Up:[3376]= C



   cubing vi.


   [parallel with `tubing'] 1. Hacking on an IPSC (Intel Personal

   SuperComputer) hypercube. "Louella's gone cubing again!!" 2. Hacking

   Rubik's Cube or related puzzles, either physically or mathematically.

   3. An indescribable form of self-torture (see sense 1 or 2).



   Node:cup holder, Next:[3377]cursor dipped in X, Previous:[3378]cubing,

   Up:[3379]= C =


   cup holder n.


   The tray of a CD-ROM drive, or by extension the CD drive itself. So

   called because of a common tech support legend about the idiot who

   called to complain that the cup holder on his computer broke. A joke

   program was once distributed around the net called "cupholder.exe",

   which when run simply extended the CD drive tray. The humor of this

   was of course lost on people whose drive had a slot or a caddy




   Node:cursor dipped in X, Next:[3380]cuspy, Previous:[3381]cup holder,

   Up:[3382]= C =


   cursor dipped in X n.


   There are a couple of metaphors in English of the form `pen dipped in

   X' (perhaps the most common values of X are `acid', `bile', and

   `vitriol'). These map over neatly to this hackish usage (the cursor

   being what moves, leaving letters behind, when one is composing

   on-line). "Talk about a [3383]nastygram! He must've had his cursor

   dipped in acid when he wrote that one!"



   Node:cuspy, Next:[3384]cut a tape, Previous:[3385]cursor dipped in X,

   Up:[3386]= C =


   cuspy /kuhs'pee/ adj.


   [WPI: from the [3387]DEC abbreviation CUSP, for `Commonly Used System

   Program', i.e., a utility program used by many people] 1. (of a

   program) Well-written. 2. Functionally excellent. A program that

   performs well and interfaces well to users is cuspy. See [3388]rude.

   3. [NYU] Said of an attractive woman, especially one regarded as

   available. Implies a certain curvaceousness.



   Node:cut a tape, Next:[3389]cybercrud, Previous:[3390]cuspy,

   Up:[3391]= C =


   cut a tape vi.


   To write a software or document distribution on magnetic tape for

   shipment. Has nothing to do with physically cutting the medium! Early

   versions of this lexicon claimed that one never analogously speaks of

   `cutting a disk', but this has since been reported as live usage.

   Related slang usages are mainstream business's `cut a check', the

   recording industry's `cut a record', and the military's `cut an



   All of these usages reflect physical processes in obsolete recording

   and duplication technologies. The first stage in manufacturing an

   old-style vinyl record involved cutting grooves in a stamping die with

   a precision lathe. More mundanely, the dominant technology for mass

   duplication of paper documents in pre-photocopying days involved

   "cutting a stencil", punching away portions of the wax overlay on a

   silk screen. More directly, paper tape with holes punched in it was an

   important early storage medium.



   Node:cybercrud, Next:[3392]cyberpunk, Previous:[3393]cut a tape,

   Up:[3394]= C =


   cybercrud /si:'ber-kruhd/ n.


   1. [coined by Ted Nelson] Obfuscatory tech-talk. Verbiage with a high

   [3395]MEGO factor. The computer equivalent of bureaucratese. 2.

   Incomprehensible stuff embedded in email. First there were the

   "Received" headers that show how mail flows through systems, then MIME

   (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions) headers and part boundaries,

   and now huge blocks of radix-64 for PEM (Privacy Enhanced Mail) or PGP

   (Pretty Good Privacy) digital signatures and certificates of

   authenticity. This stuff all services a purpose and good user

   interfaces should hide it, but all too often users are forced to wade

   through it.



   Node:cyberpunk, Next:[3396]cyberspace, Previous:[3397]cybercrud,

   Up:[3398]= C =


   cyberpunk /si:'ber-puhnk/ n.,adj.


   [orig. by SF writer Bruce Bethke and/or editor Gardner Dozois] A

   subgenre of SF launched in 1982 by William Gibson's epoch-making novel

   "Neuromancer" (though its roots go back through Vernor Vinge's "True

   Names" (see the [3399]Bibliography in Appendix C) to John Brunner's

   1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider"). Gibson's near-total ignorance of

   computers and the present-day hacker culture enabled him to speculate

   about the role of computers and hackers in the future in ways hackers

   have since found both irritatingly naïve and tremendously stimulating.

   Gibson's work was widely imitated, in particular by the short-lived

   but innovative "Max Headroom" TV series. See [3400]cyberspace,

   [3401]ice, [3402]jack in, [3403]go flatline.


   Since 1990 or so, popular culture has included a movement or fashion

   trend that calls itself `cyberpunk', associated especially with the

   rave/techno subculture. Hackers have mixed feelings about this. On the

   one hand, self-described cyberpunks too often seem to be shallow

   trendoids in black leather who have substituted enthusiastic

   blathering about technology for actually learning and doing it.

   Attitude is no substitute for competence. On the other hand, at least

   cyberpunks are excited about the right things and properly respectful

   of hacking talent in those who have it. The general consensus is to

   tolerate them politely in hopes that they'll attract people who grow

   into being true hackers.



   Node:cyberspace, Next:[3404]cycle, Previous:[3405]cyberpunk,

   Up:[3406]= C =


   cyberspace /si:'br-spays`/ n.


   1. Notional `information-space' loaded with visual cues and navigable

   with brain-computer interfaces called `cyberspace decks'; a

   characteristic prop of [3407]cyberpunk SF. Serious efforts to

   construct [3408]virtual reality interfaces modeled explicitly on

   Gibsonian cyberspace are under way, using more conventional devices

   such as glove sensors and binocular TV headsets. Few hackers are

   prepared to deny outright the possibility of a cyberspace someday

   evolving out of the network (see [3409]the network). 2. The Internet

   or [3410]Matrix (sense #2) as a whole, considered as a crude

   cyberspace (sense 1). Although this usage became widely popular in the

   mainstream press during 1994 when the Internet exploded into public

   awareness, it is strongly deprecated among hackers because the

   Internet does not meet the high, SF-inspired standards they have for

   true cyberspace technology. Thus, this use of the term usually tags a

   [3411]wannabee or outsider. Oppose [3412]meatspace. 3. Occasionally,

   the metaphoric location of the mind of a person in [3413]hack mode.

   Some hackers report experiencing strong eidetic imagery when in hack

   mode; interestingly, independent reports from multiple sources suggest

   that there are common features to the experience. In particular, the

   dominant colors of this subjective `cyberspace' are often gray and

   silver, and the imagery often involves constellations of marching

   dots, elaborate shifting patterns of lines and angles, or moire




   Node:cycle, Next:[3414]cycle crunch, Previous:[3415]cyberspace,

   Up:[3416]= C =




   1. n. The basic unit of computation. What every hacker wants more of

   (noted hacker Bill Gosper described himself as a "cycle junkie"). One

   can describe an instruction as taking so many `clock cycles'. Often

   the computer can access its memory once on every clock cycle, and so

   one speaks also of `memory cycles'. These are technical meanings of

   [3417]cycle. The jargon meaning comes from the observation that there

   are only so many cycles per second, and when you are sharing a

   computer the cycles get divided up among the users. The more cycles

   the computer spends working on your program rather than someone

   else's, the faster your program will run. That's why every hacker

   wants more cycles: so he can spend less time waiting for the computer

   to respond. 2. By extension, a notional unit of human thought power,

   emphasizing that lots of things compete for the typical hacker's think

   time. "I refused to get involved with the Rubik's Cube back when it

   was big. Knew I'd burn too many cycles on it if I let myself." 3. vt.

   Syn. [3418]bounce (sense 4), [3419]120 reset; from the phrase `cycle

   power'. "Cycle the machine again, that serial port's still hung."



   Node:cycle crunch, Next:[3420]cycle drought, Previous:[3421]cycle,

   Up:[3422]= C =


   cycle crunch n.,obs.


   A situation wherein the number of people trying to use a computer

   simultaneously has reached the point where no one can get enough

   cycles because they are spread too thin and the system has probably

   begun to [3423]thrash. This scenario is an inevitable result of

   Parkinson's Law applied to timesharing. Usually the only solution is

   to buy more computer. Happily, this has rapidly become easier since

   the mid-1980s, so much so that the very term `cycle crunch' now has a

   faintly archaic flavor; most hackers now use workstations or personal

   computers as opposed to traditional timesharing systems, and are far

   more likely to complain of `bandwidth crunch' on their shared networks

   rather than cycle crunch.



   Node:cycle drought, Next:[3424]cycle of reincarnation,

   Previous:[3425]cycle crunch, Up:[3426]= C =


   cycle drought n.


   A scarcity of cycles. It may be due to a [3427]cycle crunch, but it

   could also occur because part of the computer is temporarily not

   working, leaving fewer cycles to go around. "The [3428]high moby is

   [3429]down, so we're running with only half the usual amount of

   memory. There will be a cycle drought until it's fixed."



   Node:cycle of reincarnation, Next:[3430]cycle server,

   Previous:[3431]cycle drought, Up:[3432]= C =


   cycle of reincarnation n.


   See [3433]wheel of reincarnation.



   Node:cycle server, Next:[3434]cypherpunk, Previous:[3435]cycle of

   reincarnation, Up:[3436]= C =


   cycle server n.


   A powerful machine that exists primarily for running large compute-,

   disk-, or memory-intensive jobs (more formally called a `compute

   server'). Implies that interactive tasks such as editing are done on

   other machines on the network, such as workstations.



   Node:cypherpunk, Next:[3437]C|N>K, Previous:[3438]cycle server,

   Up:[3439]= C =


   cypherpunk n.


   [from [3440]cyberpunk] Someone interested in the uses of encryption

   via electronic ciphers for enhancing personal privacy and guarding

   against tyranny by centralized, authoritarian power structures,

   especially government. There is an active cypherpunks mailing list at

   [3441] coordinating work on public-key

   encryption freeware, privacy, and digital cash. See also




   Node:C|N>K, Next:[3443]D. C. Power Lab, Previous:[3444]cypherpunk,

   Up:[3445]= C =


   C|N>K n.


   [Usenet] Coffee through Nose to Keyboard; that is, "I laughed so hard

   I [3446]snarfed my coffee onto my keyboard.". Common on and [3447]scary devil monastery; recognized

   elsewhere. The [3448]Acronymphomania FAQ on

   recognizes variants such as T|N>K = `Tea through Nose to Keyboard' and

   C|N>S = `Coffee through Nose to Screen'.



   Node:= D =, Next:[3449]= E =, Previous:[3450]= C =, Up:[3451]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= D =

     * [3452]D. C. Power Lab:

     * [3453]daemon:

     * [3454]daemon book:

     * [3455]dahmum:

     * [3456]dancing frog:

     * [3457]dangling pointer:

     * [3458]dark-side hacker:

     * [3459]Datamation:

     * [3460]DAU:

     * [3461]Dave the Resurrector:

     * [3462]day mode:

     * [3463]dd:

     * [3464]DDT:

     * [3465]de-rezz:

     * [3466]dead:

     * [3467]dead beef attack:

     * [3468]dead code:

     * [3469]dead link:

     * [3470]DEADBEEF:

     * [3471]deadlock:

     * [3472]deadly embrace:

     * [3473]death code:

     * [3474]Death Square:

     * [3475]Death Star:

     * [3476]DEC:

     * [3477]DEC:

     * [3478]DEC Wars:

     * [3479]decay:

     * [3480]deckle:

     * [3481]DED:

     * [3482]deep hack mode:

     * [3483]deep magic:

     * [3484]deep space:

     * [3485]defenestration:

     * [3486]defined as:

     * [3487]dehose:

     * [3488]deletia:

     * [3489]deliminator:

     * [3490]delint:

     * [3491]delta:

     * [3492]demented:

     * [3493]demigod:

     * [3494]demo:

     * [3495]demo mode:

     * [3496]demoeffect:

     * [3497]demogroup:

     * [3498]demon:

     * [3499]demon dialer:

     * [3500]demoparty:

     * [3501]demoscene:

     * [3502]dentro:

     * [3503]depeditate:

     * [3504]deprecated:

     * [3505]derf:

     * [3506]deserves to lose:

     * [3507]desk check:

     * [3508]despew:

     * [3509]Devil Book:

     * [3510]/dev/null:

     * [3511]dickless workstation:

     * [3512]dictionary flame:

     * [3513]diddle:

     * [3514]die:

     * [3515]die horribly:

     * [3516]diff:

     * [3517]digit:

     * [3518]dike:

     * [3519]Dilbert:

     * [3520]ding:

     * [3521]dink:

     * [3522]dinosaur:

     * [3523]dinosaur pen:

     * [3524]dinosaurs mating:

     * [3525]dirtball:

     * [3526]dirty power:

     * [3527]disclaimer:

     * [3528]Discordianism:

     * [3529]disk farm:

     * [3530]display hack:

     * [3531]dispress:

     * [3532]Dissociated Press:

     * [3533]distribution:

     * [3534]distro:

     * [3535]disusered:

     * [3536]do protocol:

     * [3537]doc:

     * [3538]documentation:

     * [3539]dodgy:

     * [3540]dogcow:

     * [3541]dogfood:

     * [3542]dogpile:

     * [3543]dogwash:

     * [3544]domainist:

     * [3545]Don't do that then!:

     * [3546]dongle:

     * [3547]dongle-disk:

     * [3548]donuts:

     * [3549]doorstop:

     * [3550]DoS attack:

     * [3551]dot file:

     * [3552]double bucky:

     * [3553]doubled sig:

     * [3554]down:

     * [3555]download:

     * [3556]DP:

     * [3557]DPB:

     * [3558]DPer:

     * [3559]Dr. Fred Mbogo:

     * [3560]dragon:

     * [3561]Dragon Book:

     * [3562]drain:

     * [3563]dread high-bit disease:

     * [3564]Dread Questionmark Disease:

     * [3565]DRECNET:

     * [3566]driver:

     * [3567]droid:

     * [3568]drone:

     * [3569]drool-proof paper:

     * [3570]drop on the floor:

     * [3571]drop-ins:

     * [3572]drop-outs:

     * [3573]drugged:

     * [3574]drum:

     * [3575]drunk mouse syndrome:

     * [3576]dub dub dub:

     * [3577]Duff's device:

     * [3578]dumb terminal:

     * [3579]dumbass attack:

     * [3580]dumbed down:

     * [3581]dump:

     * [3582]dumpster diving:

     * [3583]dup killer:

     * [3584]dup loop:

     * [3585]dusty deck:

     * [3586]DWIM:

     * [3587]dynner:



   Node:D. C. Power Lab, Next:[3588]daemon, Previous:[3589]C|N>K,

   Up:[3590]= D =


   D. C. Power Lab n.


   The former site of [3591]SAIL. Hackers thought this was very funny

   because the obvious connection to electrical engineering was

   nonexistent -- the lab was named for a Donald C. Power. Compare

   [3592]Marginal Hacks.



   Node:daemon, Next:[3593]daemon book, Previous:[3594]D. C. Power Lab,

   Up:[3595]= D =


   daemon /day'mn/ or /dee'mn/ n.


   [from the mythological meaning, later rationalized as the acronym

   `Disk And Execution MONitor'] A program that is not invoked

   explicitly, but lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur.

   The idea is that the perpetrator of the condition need not be aware

   that a daemon is lurking (though often a program will commit an action

   only because it knows that it will implicitly invoke a daemon). For

   example, under [3596]ITS writing a file on the [3597]LPT spooler's

   directory would invoke the spooling daemon, which would then print the

   file. The advantage is that programs wanting (in this example) files

   printed need neither compete for access to nor understand any

   idiosyncrasies of the [3598]LPT. They simply enter their implicit

   requests and let the daemon decide what to do with them. Daemons are

   usually spawned automatically by the system, and may either live

   forever or be regenerated at intervals.


   Daemon and [3599]demon are often used interchangeably, but seem to

   have distinct connotations. The term `daemon' was introduced to

   computing by [3600]CTSS people (who pronounced it /dee'mon/) and used

   it to refer to what ITS called a [3601]dragon; the prototype was a

   program called DAEMON that automatically made tape backups of the file

   system. Although the meaning and the pronunciation have drifted, we

   think this glossary reflects current (2000) usage.



   Node:daemon book, Next:[3602]dahmum, Previous:[3603]daemon, Up:[3604]=

   D =


   daemon book n.


   "The Design and Implementation of the 4.3BSD UNIX Operating System",

   by Samuel J. Leffler, Marshall Kirk McKusick, Michael J. Karels, and

   John S. Quarterman (Addison-Wesley Publishers, 1989, ISBN

   0-201-06196-1); or "The Design and Implementation of the 4.4 BSD

   Operating System" by Marshall Kirk McKusick, Keith Bostic, Michael J.

   Karels and John S. Quarterman (Addison-Wesley Longman, 1996, SBN

   0-201-54979-4) Either of the standard reference books on the internals

   of [3605]BSD Unix. So called because the covers have a picture

   depicting a little devil (a visual play on [3606]daemon) in sneakers,

   holding a pitchfork (referring to one of the characteristic features

   of Unix, the fork(2) system call). Also known as the [3607]Devil Book.



   Node:dahmum, Next:[3608]dancing frog, Previous:[3609]daemon book,

   Up:[3610]= D =


   dahmum /dah'mum/ n.


   [Usenet] The material of which protracted [3611]flame wars, especially

   those about operating systems, is composed. Homeomorphic to

   [3612]spam. The term `dahmum' is derived from the name of a militant

   [3613]OS/2 advocate, and originated when an extensively crossposted

   OS/2-versus-[3614]Linux debate was fed through [3615]Dissociated




   Node:dancing frog, Next:[3616]dangling pointer, Previous:[3617]dahmum,

   Up:[3618]= D =


   dancing frog n.


   [Vancouver area] A problem that occurs on a computer that will not

   reappear while anyone else is watching. From the classic Warner

   Brothers cartoon "One Froggy Evening", featuring a dancing and singing

   Michigan J. Frog that just croaks when anyone else is around (now the

   WB network mascot).



   Node:dangling pointer, Next:[3619]dark-side hacker,

   Previous:[3620]dancing frog, Up:[3621]= D =


   dangling pointer n.


   [common] A reference that doesn't actually lead anywhere (in C and

   some other languages, a pointer that doesn't actually point at

   anything valid). Usually this happens because it formerly pointed to

   something that has moved or disappeared. Used as jargon in a

   generalization of its techspeak meaning; for example, a local phone

   number for a person who has since moved to the other coast is a

   dangling pointer. Compare [3622]dead link.



   Node:dark-side hacker, Next:[3623]Datamation, Previous:[3624]dangling

   pointer, Up:[3625]= D =


   dark-side hacker n.


   A criminal or malicious hacker; a [3626]cracker. From George Lucas's

   Darth Vader, "seduced by the dark side of the Force". The implication

   that hackers form a sort of elite of technological Jedi Knights is

   intended. Oppose [3627]samurai.



   Node:Datamation, Next:[3628]DAU, Previous:[3629]dark-side hacker,

   Up:[3630]= D =


   Datamation /day`t*-may'sh*n/ n.


   A magazine that many hackers assume all [3631]suits read. Used to

   question an unbelieved quote, as in "Did you read that in

   `Datamation?'" (But see below; this slur may be dated by the time you

   read this.) It used to publish something hackishly funny every once in

   a while, like the original paper on [3632]COME FROM in 1973, and Ed

   Post's "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal" ten years later, but for a

   long time after that it was much more exclusively [3633]suit-oriented

   and boring. Following a change of editorship in 1994, Datamation is

   trying for more of the technical content and irreverent humor that

   marked its early days.


   Datamation now has a WWW page at [3634] worth

   visiting for its selection of computer humor, including "Real

   Programmers Don't Use Pascal" and the `Bastard Operator From Hell'

   stories by Simon Travaglia (see [3635]BOFH).



   Node:DAU, Next:[3636]Dave the Resurrector, Previous:[3637]Datamation,

   Up:[3638]= D =


   DAU /dow/ n.


   [German FidoNet] German acronym for Dümmster Anzunehmender User

   (stupidest imaginable user). From the engineering-slang GAU for

   Grösster Anzunehmender Unfall, worst assumable accident, esp. of a LNG

   tank farm plant or something with similarly disastrous consequences.

   In popular German, GAU is used only to refer to worst-case nuclear

   acidents such as a core meltdown. See [3639]cretin, [3640]fool,

   [3641]loser and [3642]weasel.



   Node:Dave the Resurrector, Next:[3643]day mode, Previous:[3644]DAU,

   Up:[3645]= D =


   Dave the Resurrector n.


   [Usenet; also abbreviated DtR] A [3646]cancelbot that cancels cancels.

   Dave the Resurrector originated when some [3647]spam-spewers decided

   to try to impede spam-fighting by wholesale cancellation of anti-spam

   coordination messages in the newsgroup.



   Node:day mode, Next:[3648]dd, Previous:[3649]Dave the Resurrector,

   Up:[3650]= D =


   day mode n.


   See [3651]phase (sense 1). Used of people only.



   Node:dd, Next:[3652]DDT, Previous:[3653]day mode, Up:[3654]= D =


   dd /dee-dee/ vt.


   [Unix: from IBM [3655]JCL] Equivalent to [3656]cat or [3657]BLT.

   Originally the name of a Unix copy command with special options

   suitable for block-oriented devices; it was often used in heavy-handed

   system maintenance, as in "Let's dd the root partition onto a tape,

   then use the boot PROM to load it back on to a new disk". The Unix

   dd(1) was designed with a weird, distinctly non-Unixy keyword option

   syntax reminiscent of IBM System/360 JCL (which had an elaborate DD

   `Dataset Definition' specification for I/O devices); though the

   command filled a need, the interface design was clearly a prank. The

   jargon usage is now very rare outside Unix sites and now nearly

   obsolete even there, as dd(1) has been [3658]deprecated for a long

   time (though it has no exact replacement). The term has been displaced

   by [3659]BLT or simple English `copy'.



   Node:DDT, Next:[3660]de-rezz, Previous:[3661]dd, Up:[3662]= D =


   DDT /D-D-T/ n.


   [from the insecticide para-dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethene] 1.

   Generic term for a program that assists in debugging other programs by

   showing individual machine instructions in a readable symbolic form

   and letting the user change them. In this sense the term DDT is now

   archaic, having been widely displaced by `debugger' or names of

   individual programs like adb, sdb, dbx, or gdb. 2. [ITS] Under MIT's

   fabled [3663]ITS operating system, DDT (running under the alias

   HACTRN, a six-letterism for `Hack Translator') was also used as the

   [3664]shell or top level command language used to execute other

   programs. 3. Any one of several specific DDTs (sense 1) supported on

   early [3665]DEC hardware and CP/M. The PDP-10 Reference Handbook

   (1969) contained a footnote on the first page of the documentation for

   DDT that illuminates the origin of the term:


     Historical footnote: DDT was developed at MIT for the PDP-1

     computer in 1961. At that time DDT stood for "DEC Debugging Tape".

     Since then, the idea of an on-line debugging program has propagated

     throughout the computer industry. DDT programs are now available

     for all DEC computers. Since media other than tape are now

     frequently used, the more descriptive name "Dynamic Debugging

     Technique" has been adopted, retaining the DDT abbreviation.

     Confusion between DDT-10 and another well known pesticide,

     dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (C14-H9-Cl5) should be minimal

     since each attacks a different, and apparently mutually exclusive,

     class of bugs.


   (The `tape' referred to was, incidentally, not magnetic but paper.)

   Sadly, this quotation was removed from later editions of the handbook

   after the [3666]suits took over and [3667]DEC became much more



   The history above is known to many old-time hackers. But there's more:

   Peter Samson, compiler of the original [3668]TMRC lexicon, reports

   that he named `DDT' after a similar tool on the TX-0 computer, the

   direct ancestor of the PDP-1 built at MIT's Lincoln Lab in 1957. The

   debugger on that ground-breaking machine (the first transistorized

   computer) rejoiced in the name FLIT (FLexowriter Interrogation Tape).



   Node:de-rezz, Next:[3669]dead, Previous:[3670]DDT, Up:[3671]= D =


   de-rezz /dee-rez'/


   [from `de-resolve' via the movie "Tron"] (also `derez') 1. vi. To

   disappear or dissolve; the image that goes with it is of an object

   breaking up into raster lines and static and then dissolving.

   Occasionally used of a person who seems to have suddenly `fuzzed out'

   mentally rather than physically. Usage: extremely silly, also rare.

   This verb was actually invented as fictional hacker jargon, and

   adopted in a spirit of irony by real hackers years after the fact. 2.

   vt. The Macintosh resource decompiler. On a Macintosh, many program

   structures (including the code itself) are managed in small segments

   of the program file known as `resources'; `Rez' and `DeRez' are a pair

   of utilities for compiling and decompiling resource files. Thus,

   decompiling a resource is `derezzing'. Usage: very common.



   Node:dead, Next:[3672]dead beef attack, Previous:[3673]de-rezz,

   Up:[3674]= D =


   dead adj.


   1. Non-functional; [3675]down; [3676]crashed. Especially used of

   hardware. 2. At XEROX PARC, software that is working but not

   undergoing continued development and support. 3. Useless;

   inaccessible. Antonym: `live'. Compare [3677]dead code.



   Node:dead beef attack, Next:[3678]dead code, Previous:[3679]dead,

   Up:[3680]= D =


   dead beef attack n.


   [cypherpunks list, 1996] An attack on a public-key cryptosystem

   consisting of publishing a key having the same ID as another key (thus

   making it possible to spoof a user's identity if recipients aren't

   careful about verifying keys). In PGP and GPG the key ID is the last

   eight hex digits of (for RSA keys) the product of two primes. The

   attack was demonstrated by creating a key whose ID was 0xdeadbeef (see




   Node:dead code, Next:[3682]dead link, Previous:[3683]dead beef attack,

   Up:[3684]= D =


   dead code n.


   Routines that can never be accessed because all calls to them have

   been removed, or code that cannot be reached because it is guarded by

   a control structure that provably must always transfer control

   somewhere else. The presence of dead code may reveal either logical

   errors due to alterations in the program or significant changes in the

   assumptions and environment of the program (see also [3685]software

   rot); a good compiler should report dead code so a maintainer can

   think about what it means. (Sometimes it simply means that an

   extremely defensive programmer has inserted [3686]can't happen tests

   which really can't happen -- yet.) Syn. [3687]grunge. See also

   [3688]dead, and [3689]The Story of Mel.



   Node:dead link, Next:[3690]DEADBEEF, Previous:[3691]dead code,

   Up:[3692]= D =


   dead link n.


   [very common] A World-Wide-Web URL that no longer points to the

   information it was written to reach. Usually this happens because the

   document has been moved or deleted. Lots of dead links make a WWW page

   frustrating and useless and are the #1 sign of poor page maintainance.

   Compare [3693]dangling pointer, [3694]link rot.



   Node:DEADBEEF, Next:[3695]deadlock, Previous:[3696]dead link,

   Up:[3697]= D =


   DEADBEEF /ded-beef/ n.


   The hexadecimal word-fill pattern for freshly allocated memory

   (decimal -21524111) under a number of IBM environments, including the

   RS/6000. Some modern debugging tools deliberately fill freed memory

   with this value as a way of converting [3698]heisenbugs into

   [3699]Bohr bugs. As in "Your program is DEADBEEF" (meaning gone,

   aborted, flushed from memory); if you start from an odd half-word

   boundary, of course, you have BEEFDEAD. See also the anecdote under

   [3700]fool and [3701]dead beef attack.



   Node:deadlock, Next:[3702]deadly embrace, Previous:[3703]DEADBEEF,

   Up:[3704]= D =


   deadlock n.


   1. [techspeak] A situation wherein two or more processes are unable to

   proceed because each is waiting for one of the others to do something.

   A common example is a program communicating to a server, which may

   find itself waiting for output from the server before sending anything

   more to it, while the server is similarly waiting for more input from

   the controlling program before outputting anything. (It is reported

   that this particular flavor of deadlock is sometimes called a

   `starvation deadlock', though the term `starvation' is more properly

   used for situations where a program can never run simply because it

   never gets high enough priority. Another common flavor is

   `constipation', in which each process is trying to send stuff to the

   other but all buffers are full because nobody is reading anything.)

   See [3705]deadly embrace. 2. Also used of deadlock-like interactions

   between humans, as when two people meet in a narrow corridor, and each

   tries to be polite by moving aside to let the other pass, but they end

   up swaying from side to side without making any progress because they

   always move the same way at the same time.



   Node:deadly embrace, Next:[3706]death code, Previous:[3707]deadlock,

   Up:[3708]= D =


   deadly embrace n.


   Same as [3709]deadlock, though usually used only when exactly two

   processes are involved. This is the more popular term in Europe, while

   [3710]deadlock predominates in the United States.



   Node:death code, Next:[3711]Death Square, Previous:[3712]deadly

   embrace, Up:[3713]= D =


   death code n.


   A routine whose job is to set everything in the computer -- registers,

   memory, flags, everything -- to zero, including that portion of memory

   where it is running; its last act is to stomp on its own "store zero"

   instruction. Death code isn't very useful, but writing it is an

   interesting hacking challenge on architectures where the instruction

   set makes it possible, such as the PDP-8 (it has also been done on the

   DG Nova).


   Perhaps the ultimate death code is on the TI 990 series, where all

   registers are actually in RAM, and the instruction "store immediate 0"

   has the opcode "0". The PC will immediately wrap around core as many

   times as it can until a user hits HALT. Any empty memory location is

   death code. Worse, the manufacturer recommended use of this

   instruction in startup code (which would be in ROM and therefore




   Node:Death Square, Next:[3714]Death Star, Previous:[3715]death code,

   Up:[3716]= D =


   Death Square n.


   The corporate logo of Novell, the people who acquired USL after AT&T

   let go of it (Novell eventually sold the Unix group to SCO). Coined by

   analogy with [3717]Death Star, because many people believed Novell was

   bungling the lead in Unix systems exactly as AT&T did for many years.



   Node:Death Star, Next:[3718]DEC, Previous:[3719]Death Square,

   Up:[3720]= D =


   Death Star n.


   [from the movie "Star Wars"] 1. The AT&T corporate logo, which appears

   on computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny resemblance to the

   Death Star in the movie. This usage is particularly common among

   partisans of [3721]BSD Unix, who tend to regard the AT&T versions as

   inferior and AT&T as a bad guy. Copies still circulate of a poster

   printed by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape with a space fighter labeled

   4.2 BSD streaking away from a broken AT&T logo wreathed in flames. 2.

   AT&T's internal magazine, "Focus", uses `death star' to describe an

   incorrectly done AT&T logo in which the inner circle in the top left

   is dark instead of light -- a frequent result of dark-on-light logo




   Node:DEC, Next:[3722]DEC Wars, Previous:[3723]Death Star, Up:[3724]= D



   DEC /dek/ n.


   1. v. Verbal (and only rarely written) shorthand for decrement, i.e.

   `decrease by one'. Especially used by assembly programmers, as many

   assembly languages have a dec mnemonic. Antonym: [3725]inc. 2. n.

   Commonly used abbreviation for Digital Equipment Corporation, later

   deprecated by DEC itself in favor of "Digital" and now entirely

   obsolete following the buyout by Compaq. Before the [3726]killer micro

   revolution of the late 1980s, hackerdom was closely symbiotic with

   DEC's pioneering timesharing machines. The first of the group of

   cultures described by this lexicon nucleated around the PDP-1 (see

   [3727]TMRC). Subsequently, the PDP-6, [3728]PDP-10, [3729]PDP-20,

   PDP-11 and [3730]VAX were all foci of large and important hackerdoms,

   and DEC machines long dominated the ARPANET and Internet machine

   population. DEC was the technological leader of the minicomputer era

   (roughly 1967 to 1987), but its failure to embrace microcomputers and

   Unix early cost it heavily in profits and prestige after [3731]silicon

   got cheap. Nevertheless, the microprocessor design tradition owes a

   major debt to the PDP-11 instruction set, and every one of the major

   general-purpose microcomputer OSs so far (CP/M, MS-DOS, Unix, OS/2,

   Windows NT) was either genetically descended from a DEC OS, or

   incubated on DEC hardware, or both. Accordingly, DEC was for many

   years still regarded with a certain wry affection even among many

   hackers too young to have grown up on DEC machines.


   DEC reclaimed some of its old reputation among techies in the first

   half of the 1990s. The success of the Alpha, an innovatively-designed

   and very high-performance [3732]killer micro, helped a lot. So did

   DEC's newfound receptiveness to Unix and open systems in general. When

   Compaq acquired DEC at the end of 1998 there was some concern that

   these gains would be lost along with the DEC nameplate, but the merged

   company has so far turned out to be culturally dominated by the ex-DEC




   Node:DEC Wars, Next:[3733]decay, Previous:[3734]DEC, Up:[3735]= D =


   DEC Wars n.


   A 1983 [3736]Usenet posting by Alan Hastings and Steve Tarr spoofing

   the "Star Wars" movies in hackish terms. Some years later, ESR

   (disappointed by Hastings and Tarr's failure to exploit a great

   premise more thoroughly) posted a 3-times-longer complete rewrite

   called [3737]Unix WARS; the two are often confused.



   Node:decay, Next:[3738]deckle, Previous:[3739]DEC Wars, Up:[3740]= D =


   decay n.,vi


   [from nuclear physics] An automatic conversion which is applied to

   most array-valued expressions in [3741]C; they `decay into'

   pointer-valued expressions pointing to the array's first element. This

   term is borderline techspeak, but is not used in the official standard

   for the language.



   Node:deckle, Next:[3742]DED, Previous:[3743]decay, Up:[3744]= D =


   deckle /dek'l/ n.


   [from dec- and [3745]nybble; the original spelling seems to have been

   `decle'] Two [3746]nickles; 10 bits. Reported among developers for

   Mattel's GI 1600 (the Intellivision games processor), a chip with

   16-bit-wide RAM but 10-bit-wide ROM. See [3747]nybble for other such




   Node:DED, Next:[3748]deep hack mode, Previous:[3749]deckle, Up:[3750]=

   D =


   DED /D-E-D/ n.


   Dark-Emitting Diode (that is, a burned-out LED). Compare [3751]SED,

   [3752]LER, [3753]write-only memory. In the early 1970s both Signetics

   and Texas instruments released DED spec sheets as [3754]AFJs

   (suggested uses included "as a power-off indicator").



   Node:deep hack mode, Next:[3755]deep magic, Previous:[3756]DED,

   Up:[3757]= D =


   deep hack mode n.


   See [3758]hack mode.



   Node:deep magic, Next:[3759]deep space, Previous:[3760]deep hack mode,

   Up:[3761]= D =


   deep magic n.


   [poss. from C. S. Lewis's "Narnia" books] An awesomely arcane

   technique central to a program or system, esp. one neither generally

   published nor available to hackers at large (compare [3762]black art);

   one that could only have been composed by a true [3763]wizard.

   Compiler optimization techniques and many aspects of [3764]OS design

   used to be [3765]deep magic; many techniques in cryptography, signal

   processing, graphics, and AI still are. Compare [3766]heavy wizardry.

   Esp. found in comments of the form "Deep magic begins here...".

   Compare [3767]voodoo programming.



   Node:deep space, Next:[3768]defenestration, Previous:[3769]deep magic,

   Up:[3770]= D =


   deep space n.


   1. Describes the notional location of any program that has gone

   [3771]off the trolley. Esp. used of programs that just sit there

   silently grinding long after either failure or some output is

   expected. "Uh oh. I should have gotten a prompt ten seconds ago. The

   program's in deep space somewhere." Compare [3772]buzz,

   [3773]catatonic, [3774]hyperspace. 2. The metaphorical location of a

   human so dazed and/or confused or caught up in some esoteric form of

   [3775]bogosity that he or she no longer responds coherently to normal

   communication. Compare [3776]page out.



   Node:defenestration, Next:[3777]defined as, Previous:[3778]deep space,

   Up:[3779]= D =


   defenestration n.


   [mythically from a traditional Czech assasination method, via SF

   fandom] 1. Proper karmic retribution for an incorrigible punster. "Oh,

   ghod, that was awful!" "Quick! Defenestrate him!" 2. The act of

   exiting a window system in order to get better response time from a

   full-screen program. This comes from the dictionary meaning of

   `defenestrate', which is to throw something out a window. 3. The act

   of discarding something under the assumption that it will improve

   matters. "I don't have any disk space left." "Well, why don't you

   defenestrate that 100 megs worth of old core dumps?" 4. Under a GUI,

   the act of dragging something out of a window (onto the screen).

   "Next, defenestrate the MugWump icon." 5. The act of completely

   removing Micro$oft Windows from a PC in favor of a better OS

   (typically Linux).



   Node:defined as, Next:[3780]dehose, Previous:[3781]defenestration,

   Up:[3782]= D =


   defined as adj.


   In the role of, usually in an organization-chart sense. "Pete is

   currently defined as bug prioritizer." Compare [3783]logical.



   Node:dehose, Next:[3784]deletia, Previous:[3785]defined as, Up:[3786]=

   D =


   dehose /dee-hohz/ vt.


   To clear a [3787]hosed condition.



   Node:deletia, Next:[3788]deliminator, Previous:[3789]dehose,

   Up:[3790]= D =


   deletia n. /d*-lee'sha/


   [USENET; common] In an email reply, material omitted from the quote of

   the original. Usually written rather than spoken; often appears as a

   pseudo-tag or ellipsis in the body of the reply, as "[deletia]" or




   Node:deliminator, Next:[3791]delint, Previous:[3792]deletia,

   Up:[3793]= D =


   deliminator /de-lim'-in-ay-t*r/ n.


   [portmanteau, delimiter + eliminate] A string or pattern used to

   delimit text into fields, but which is itself eliminated from the

   resulting list of fields. This jargon seems to have originated among

   Perl hackers in connection with the Perl split() function; however, it

   has been sighted in live use among Java and even Visual Basic




   Node:delint, Next:[3794]delta, Previous:[3795]deliminator, Up:[3796]=

   D =


   delint /dee-lint/ v. obs.


   To modify code to remove problems detected when [3797]linting.

   Confusingly, this process is also referred to as `linting' code. This

   term is no longer in general use because ANSI C compilers typically

   issue compile-time warnings almost as detailed as lint warnings.



   Node:delta, Next:[3798]demented, Previous:[3799]delint, Up:[3800]= D =


   delta n.


   1. [techspeak] A quantitative change, especially a small or

   incremental one (this use is general in physics and engineering). "I

   just doubled the speed of my program!" "What was the delta on program

   size?" "About 30 percent." (He doubled the speed of his program, but

   increased its size by only 30 percent.) 2. [Unix] A [3801]diff,

   especially a [3802]diff stored under the set of version-control tools

   called SCCS (Source Code Control System) or RCS (Revision Control

   System). 3. n. A small quantity, but not as small as [3803]epsilon.

   The jargon usage of [3804]delta and [3805]epsilon stems from the

   traditional use of these letters in mathematics for very small

   numerical quantities, particularly in `epsilon-delta' proofs in limit

   theory (as in the differential calculus). The term [3806]delta is

   often used, once [3807]epsilon has been mentioned, to mean a quantity

   that is slightly bigger than [3808]epsilon but still very small. "The

   cost isn't epsilon, but it's delta" means that the cost isn't totally

   negligible, but it is nevertheless very small. Common constructions

   include `within delta of --', `within epsilon of --': that is, `close

   to' and `even closer to'.



   Node:demented, Next:[3809]demigod, Previous:[3810]delta, Up:[3811]= D



   demented adj.


   Yet another term of disgust used to describe a malfunctioning program.

   The connotation in this case is that the program works as designed,

   but the design is bad. Said, for example, of a program that generates

   large numbers of meaningless error messages, implying that it is on

   the brink of imminent collapse. Compare [3812]wonky,

   [3813]brain-damaged, [3814]bozotic.



   Node:demigod, Next:[3815]demo, Previous:[3816]demented, Up:[3817]= D =


   demigod n.


   A hacker with years of experience, a world-wide reputation, and a

   major role in the development of at least one design, tool, or game

   used by or known to more than half of the hacker community. To qualify

   as a genuine demigod, the person must recognizably identify with the

   hacker community and have helped shape it. Major demigods include Ken

   Thompson and Dennis Ritchie (co-inventors of [3818]Unix and [3819]C),

   Richard M. Stallman (inventor of [3820]EMACS), Larry Wall (inventor of

   [3821]Perl), Linus Torvalds (inventor of [3822]Linux), and most

   recently James Gosling (inventor of Java, [3823]NeWS, and

   [3824]GOSMACS) and Guido van Rossum (inventor of [3825]Python). In

   their hearts of hearts, most hackers dream of someday becoming

   demigods themselves, and more than one major software project has been

   driven to completion by the author's veiled hopes of apotheosis. See

   also [3826]net.god, [3827]true-hacker.



   Node:demo, Next:[3828]demo mode, Previous:[3829]demigod, Up:[3830]= D



   demo /de'moh/


   [short for `demonstration'] 1. v. To demonstrate a product or

   prototype. A far more effective way of inducing bugs to manifest than

   any number of [3831]test runs, especially when important people are

   watching. 2. n. The act of demoing. "I've gotta give a demo of the

   drool-proof interface; how does it work again?" 3. n. Esp. as `demo

   version', can refer either to an early, barely-functional version of a

   program which can be used for demonstration purposes as long as the

   operator uses exactly the right commands and skirts its numerous bugs,

   deficiencies, and unimplemented portions, or to a special version of a

   program (frequently with some features crippled) which is distributed

   at little or no cost to the user for enticement purposes. 4.

   [[3832]demoscene] A sequence of [3833]demoeffects (usually) combined

   with self-composed music and hand-drawn ("pixelated") graphics. These

   days (1997) usually built to attend a [3834]compo. Often called

   `eurodemos' outside Europe, as most of the [3835]demoscene activity

   seems to have gathered in northern Europe and especially Scandinavia.

   See also [3836]intro, [3837]dentro.



   Node:demo mode, Next:[3838]demoeffect, Previous:[3839]demo, Up:[3840]=

   D =


   demo mode n.


   1. [Sun] The state of being [3841]heads down in order to finish code

   in time for a [3842]demo, usually due yesterday. 2. A mode in which

   video games sit by themselves running through a portion of the game,

   also known as `attract mode'. Some serious [3843]apps have a demo mode

   they use as a screen saver, or may go through a demo mode on startup

   (for example, the Microsoft Windows opening screen -- which lets you

   impress your neighbors without actually having to put up with

   [3844]Microsloth Windows).



   Node:demoeffect, Next:[3845]demogroup, Previous:[3846]demo mode,

   Up:[3847]= D =


   demoeffect n.


   [[3848]demoscene] What among hackers is called a [3849]display hack.

   Classical effects include "plasma" (colorful mess), "keftales"

   (x*x+y*y and other similar patterns, usually combined with

   color-cycling), realtime fractals, realtime 3d graphics, etc.

   Historically, demo effects have cheated as much as possible to gain

   more speed and more complexity, using low-precision math and masses of

   assembler code and building animation realtime are three common

   tricks, but use of special hardware to fake effects is a [3850]Good

   Thing on the demoscene (though this is becoming less common as

   platforms like the Amiga fade away).



   Node:demogroup, Next:[3851]demon, Previous:[3852]demoeffect,

   Up:[3853]= D =


   demogroup n.


   [[3854]demoscene] A group of [3855]demo (sense 4) composers. Job

   titles within a group include coders (the ones who write programs),

   graphicians (the ones who painstakingly pixelate the fine art),

   musicians (the music composers), [3856]sysops, traders/swappers (the

   ones who do the trading and other PR), and organizers (in larger

   groups). It is not uncommon for one person to do multiple jobs, but it

   has been observed that good coders are rarely good composers and vice

   versa. [How odd. Musical talent seems common among Internet/Unix

   hackers --ESR]



   Node:demon, Next:[3857]demon dialer, Previous:[3858]demogroup,

   Up:[3859]= D =


   demon n.


   1. [MIT] A portion of a program that is not invoked explicitly, but

   that lies dormant waiting for some condition(s) to occur. See

   [3860]daemon. The distinction is that demons are usually processes

   within a program, while daemons are usually programs running on an

   operating system. 2. [outside MIT] Often used equivalently to

   [3861]daemon -- especially in the [3862]Unix world, where the latter

   spelling and pronunciation is considered mildly archaic.


   Demons in sense 1 are particularly common in AI programs. For example,

   a knowledge-manipulation program might implement inference rules as

   demons. Whenever a new piece of knowledge was added, various demons

   would activate (which demons depends on the particular piece of data)

   and would create additional pieces of knowledge by applying their

   respective inference rules to the original piece. These new pieces

   could in turn activate more demons as the inferences filtered down

   through chains of logic. Meanwhile, the main program could continue

   with whatever its primary task was.



   Node:demon dialer, Next:[3863]demoparty, Previous:[3864]demon,

   Up:[3865]= D =


   demon dialer n.


   A program which repeatedly calls the same telephone number. Demon

   dialing may be benign (as when a number of communications programs

   contend for legitimate access to a [3866]BBS line) or malign (that is,

   used as a prank or denial-of-service attack). This term dates from the

   [3867]blue box days of the 1970s and early 1980s and is now

   semi-obsolescent among [3868]phreakers; see [3869]war dialer for its

   contemporary progeny.



   Node:demoparty, Next:[3870]demoscene, Previous:[3871]demon dialer,

   Up:[3872]= D =


   demoparty n.


   [[3873]demoscene] Aboveground descendant of the [3874]copyparty, with

   emphasis shifted away from software piracy and towards [3875]compos.

   Smaller demoparties, for 100 persons or less, are held quite often,

   sometimes even once a month, and usually last for one to two days. On

   the other end of the scale, huge demo parties are held once a year

   (and four of these have grown very large and occur annually - Assembly

   in Finland, The Party in Denmark, The Gathering in Norway, and NAID

   somewhere in north America). These parties usually last for three to

   five days, have room for 3000-5000 people, and have a party network

   with connection to the internet.



   Node:demoscene, Next:[3876]dentro, Previous:[3877]demoparty,

   Up:[3878]= D =


   demoscene /dem'oh-seen/


   [also `demo scene'] A culture of multimedia hackers located primarily

   in Scandinavia and northern Europe. Demoscene folklore recounts that

   when old-time [3879]warez d00dz cracked some piece of software they

   often added an advertisement of in the beginning, usually containing

   colorful [3880]display hacks with greetings to other cracking groups.

   The demoscene was born among people who decided building these display

   hacks is more interesting than hacking and began to build

   self-contained display hacks of considerable elaboration and beauty

   (within the culture such a hack is called a [3881]demo). The split

   seems to have happened at the end of the 1980s. As more of these

   [3882]demogroups emerged, they started to have [3883]compos at copying

   parties (see [3884]copyparty), which later evolved to standalone

   events (see [3885]demoparty). The demoscene has retained some traits

   from the [3886]warez d00dz, including their style of handles and group

   names and some of their jargon.


   Traditionally demos were written in assembly language, with lots of

   smart tricks, self-modifying code, undocumented op-codes and the like.

   Some time around 1995, people started coding demos in C, and a couple

   of years after that, they also started using Java.


   Ten years on (in 1998-1999), the demoscene is changing as its original

   platforms (C64, Amiga, Spectrum, Atari ST, IBM PC under DOS) die out

   and activity shifts towards Windows, Linux, and the Internet. While

   deeply underground in the past, demoscene is trying to get into the

   mainstream as accepted art form, and one symptom of this is the

   commercialization of bigger demoparties. Older demosceneers frown at

   this, but the majority think it's a good direction. Many demosceneers

   end up working in the computer game industry. Demoscene resource pages

   are available at [3887] and




   Node:dentro, Next:[3889]depeditate, Previous:[3890]demoscene,

   Up:[3891]= D =


   dentro /den'troh/


   [[3892]demoscene] Combination of [3893]demo (sense 4) and [3894]intro.

   Other name mixings include intmo, dentmo etc. and are used usually

   when the authors are not quite sure whether the program is a

   [3895]demo or an [3896]intro. Special-purpose coinages like wedtro

   (some member of a group got married), invtro (invitation intro) etc.

   have also been sighted.



   Node:depeditate, Next:[3897]deprecated, Previous:[3898]dentro,

   Up:[3899]= D =


   depeditate /dee-ped'*-tayt/ n.


   [by (faulty) analogy with `decapitate'] Humorously, to cut off the

   feet of. When one is using some computer-aided typesetting tools,

   careless placement of text blocks within a page or above a rule can

   result in chopped-off letter descenders. Such letters are said to have

   been depeditated.



   Node:deprecated, Next:[3900]derf, Previous:[3901]depeditate,

   Up:[3902]= D =


   deprecated adj.


   Said of a program or feature that is considered obsolescent and in the

   process of being phased out, usually in favor of a specified

   replacement. Deprecated features can, unfortunately, linger on for

   many years. This term appears with distressing frequency in standards

   documents when the committees writing the documents realize that large

   amounts of extant (and presumably happily working) code depend on the

   feature(s) that have passed out of favor. See also [3903]dusty deck.


   [Usage note: don't confuse this word with `depreciate', or the verb

   form `deprecate' with `depreciated`. They are different words; see any

   dictionary for discussion.]



   Node:derf, Next:[3904]deserves to lose, Previous:[3905]deprecated,

   Up:[3906]= D =


   derf /derf/ v.,n.


   [PLATO] The act of exploiting a terminal which someone else has

   absentmindedly left logged on, to use that person's account,

   especially to post articles intended to make an ass of the victim

   you're impersonating. It has been alleged that the term originated as

   a reversal of the name of the gentleman who most usually left himself

   vulnerable to it, who also happened to be the head of the department

   that handled PLATO at the University of Delaware.



   Node:deserves to lose, Next:[3907]desk check, Previous:[3908]derf,

   Up:[3909]= D =


   deserves to lose adj.


   [common] Said of someone who willfully does the [3910]Wrong Thing;

   humorously, if one uses a feature known to be [3911]marginal. What is

   meant is that one deserves the consequences of one's [3912]losing

   actions. "Boy, anyone who tries to use [3913]mess-dos deserves to

   [3914]lose!" ([3915]ITS fans used to say the same thing of [3916]Unix;

   many still do.) See also [3917]screw, [3918]chomp, [3919]bagbiter.



   Node:desk check, Next:[3920]despew, Previous:[3921]deserves to lose,

   Up:[3922]= D =


   desk check n.,v.


   To [3923]grovel over hardcopy of source code, mentally simulating the

   control flow; a method of catching bugs. No longer common practice in

   this age of on-screen editing, fast compiles, and sophisticated

   debuggers -- though some maintain stoutly that it ought to be. Compare

   [3924]eyeball search, [3925]vdiff, [3926]vgrep.



   Node:despew, Next:[3927]Devil Book, Previous:[3928]desk check,

   Up:[3929]= D =


   despew /d*-spyoo'/ v.


   [Usenet] To automatically generate a large amount of garbage to the

   net, esp. from an automated posting program gone wild. See [3930]ARMM.



   Node:Devil Book, Next:[3931]/dev/null, Previous:[3932]despew,

   Up:[3933]= D =


   Devil Book n.


   See [3934]daemon book, the term preferred by its authors.



   Node:/dev/null, Next:[3935]dickless workstation, Previous:[3936]Devil

   Book, Up:[3937]= D =


   /dev/null /dev-nuhl/ n.


   [from the Unix null device, used as a data sink] A notional `black

   hole' in any information space being discussed, used, or referred to.

   A controversial posting, for example, might end "Kudos to, flames to /dev/null". See [3938]bit bucket.



   Node:dickless workstation, Next:[3939]dictionary flame,

   Previous:[3940]/dev/null, Up:[3941]= D =


   dickless workstation n.


   Extremely pejorative hackerism for `diskless workstation', a class of

   botches including the Sun 3/50 and other machines designed exclusively

   to network with an expensive central disk server. These combine all

   the disadvantages of time-sharing with all the disadvantages of

   distributed personal computers; typically, they cannot even [3942]boot

   themselves without help (in the form of some kind of

   [3943]breath-of-life packet) from the server.



   Node:dictionary flame, Next:[3944]diddle, Previous:[3945]dickless

   workstation, Up:[3946]= D =


   dictionary flame n.


   [Usenet] An attempt to sidetrack a debate away from issues by

   insisting on meanings for key terms that presuppose a desired

   conclusion or smuggle in an implicit premise. A common tactic of

   people who prefer argument over definitions to disputes about reality.

   Compare [3947]spelling flame.



   Node:diddle, Next:[3948]die, Previous:[3949]dictionary flame,

   Up:[3950]= D =




   1. vt. To work with or modify in a not particularly serious manner. "I

   diddled a copy of [3951]ADVENT so it didn't double-space all the

   time." "Let's diddle this piece of code and see if the problem goes

   away." See [3952]tweak and [3953]twiddle. 2. n. The action or result

   of diddling. See also [3954]tweak, [3955]twiddle, [3956]frob.



   Node:die, Next:[3957]die horribly, Previous:[3958]diddle, Up:[3959]= D



   die v.


   Syn. [3960]crash. Unlike [3961]crash, which is used primarily of

   hardware, this verb is used of both hardware and software. See also

   [3962]go flatline, [3963]casters-up mode.



   Node:die horribly, Next:[3964]diff, Previous:[3965]die, Up:[3966]= D =


   die horribly v.


   The software equivalent of [3967]crash and burn, and the preferred

   emphatic form of [3968]die. "The converter choked on an FF in its

   input and died horribly".



   Node:diff, Next:[3969]digit, Previous:[3970]die horribly, Up:[3971]= D



   diff /dif/ n.


   1. A change listing, especially giving differences between (and

   additions to) source code or documents (the term is often used in the

   plural `diffs'). "Send me your diffs for the Jargon File!" Compare

   [3972]vdiff. 2. Specifically, such a listing produced by the diff(1)

   command, esp. when used as specification input to the patch(1) utility

   (which can actually perform the modifications; see [3973]patch). This

   is a common method of distributing patches and source updates in the

   Unix/C world. 3. v. To compare (whether or not by use of automated

   tools on machine-readable files); see also [3974]vdiff, [3975]mod.



   Node:digit, Next:[3976]dike, Previous:[3977]diff, Up:[3978]= D =


   digit n.,obs.


   An employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. See also [3979]VAX,

   [3980]VMS, [3981]PDP-10, [3982]TOPS-10, [3983]field circus.



   Node:dike, Next:[3984]Dilbert, Previous:[3985]digit, Up:[3986]= D =


   dike vt.


   To remove or disable a portion of something, as a wire from a computer

   or a subroutine from a program. A standard slogan is "When in doubt,

   dike it out". (The implication is that it is usually more effective to

   attack software problems by reducing complexity than by increasing

   it.) The word `dikes' is widely used among mechanics and engineers to

   mean `diagonal cutters', esp. the heavy-duty metal-cutting version,

   but may also refer to a kind of wire-cutters used by electronics

   techs. To `dike something out' means to use such cutters to remove

   something. Indeed, the TMRC Dictionary defined dike as "to attack with

   dikes". Among hackers this term has been metaphorically extended to

   informational objects such as sections of code.



   Node:Dilbert, Next:[3987]ding, Previous:[3988]dike, Up:[3989]= D =




   n. Name and title character of a comic strip nationally syndicated in

   the U.S. and enormously popular among hackers. Dilbert is an

   archetypical engineer-nerd who works at an anonymous high-technology

   company; the strips present a lacerating satire of insane working

   conditions and idiotic [3990]management practices all too readily

   recognized by hackers. Adams, who spent nine years in [3991]cube

   4S700R at Pacific Bell (not [3992]DEC as often reported), often

   remarks that he has never been able to come up with a fictional

   management blunder that his correspondents didn't quickly either

   report to have actually happened or top with a similar but even more

   bizarre incident. In 1996 Adams distilled his insights into the

   collective psychology of businesses into an even funnier book, "The

   Dilbert Principle" (HarperCollins, ISBN 0-887-30787-6). See also

   [3993]pointy-haired, [3994]rat dance.



   Node:ding, Next:[3995]dink, Previous:[3996]Dilbert, Up:[3997]= D =


   ding n.,vi.


   1. Synonym for [3998]feep. Usage: rare among hackers, but more common

   in the [3999]Real World. 2. `dinged': What happens when someone in

   authority gives you a minor bitching about something, esp. something

   trivial. "I was dinged for having a messy desk."



   Node:dink, Next:[4000]dinosaur, Previous:[4001]ding, Up:[4002]= D =


   dink /dink/ adj.


   Said of a machine that has the [4003]bitty box nature; a machine too

   small to be worth bothering with -- sometimes the system you're

   currently forced to work on. First heard from an MIT hacker working on

   a CP/M system with 64K, in reference to any 6502 system, then from

   fans of 32-bit architectures about 16-bit machines. "GNUMACS will

   never work on that dink machine." Probably derived from mainstream

   `dinky', which isn't sufficiently pejorative. See [4004]macdink.



   Node:dinosaur, Next:[4005]dinosaur pen, Previous:[4006]dink,

   Up:[4007]= D =


   dinosaur n.


   1. Any hardware requiring raised flooring and special power. Used

   especially of old minis and mainframes, in contrast with newer

   microprocessor-based machines. In a famous quote from the 1988 Unix

   EXPO, Bill Joy compared the liquid-cooled mainframe in the massive IBM

   display with a grazing dinosaur "with a truck outside pumping its

   bodily fluids through it". IBM was not amused. Compare [4008]big iron;

   see also [4009]mainframe. 2. [IBM] A very conservative user; a




   Node:dinosaur pen, Next:[4011]dinosaurs mating,

   Previous:[4012]dinosaur, Up:[4013]= D =


   dinosaur pen n.


   A traditional [4014]mainframe computer room complete with raised

   flooring, special power, its own ultra-heavy-duty air conditioning,

   and a side order of Halon fire extinguishers. See [4015]boa.



   Node:dinosaurs mating, Next:[4016]dirtball, Previous:[4017]dinosaur

   pen, Up:[4018]= D =


   dinosaurs mating n.


   Said to occur when yet another [4019]big iron merger or buyout occurs;

   reflects a perception by hackers that these signal another stage in

   the long, slow dying of the [4020]mainframe industry. In its glory

   days of the 1960s, it was `IBM and the Seven Dwarves': Burroughs,

   Control Data, General Electric, Honeywell, NCR, RCA, and Univac. RCA

   and GE sold out early, and it was `IBM and the Bunch' (Burroughs,

   Univac, NCR, Control Data, and Honeywell) for a while. Honeywell was

   bought out by Bull; Burroughs merged with Univac to form Unisys (in

   1984 -- this was when the phrase `dinosaurs mating' was coined); and

   in 1991 AT&T absorbed NCR (but spat it back out a few years later).

   Control Data still exists but is no longer in the mainframe business.

   More such earth-shaking unions of doomed giants seem inevitable.



   Node:dirtball, Next:[4021]dirty power, Previous:[4022]dinosaurs

   mating, Up:[4023]= D =


   dirtball n.


   [XEROX PARC] A small, perhaps struggling outsider; not in the major or

   even the minor leagues. For example, "Xerox is not a dirtball



   [Outsiders often observe in the PARC culture an institutional

   arrogance which usage of this term exemplifies. The brilliance and

   scope of PARC's contributions to computer science have been such that

   this superior attitude is not much resented. --ESR]



   Node:dirty power, Next:[4024]disclaimer, Previous:[4025]dirtball,

   Up:[4026]= D =


   dirty power n.


   Electrical mains voltage that is unfriendly to the delicate innards of

   computers. Spikes, [4027]drop-outs, average voltage significantly

   higher or lower than nominal, or just plain noise can all cause

   problems of varying subtlety and severity (these are collectively

   known as [4028]power hits).



   Node:disclaimer, Next:[4029]Discordianism, Previous:[4030]dirty power,

   Up:[4031]= D =


   disclaimer n.


   [Usenet] Statement ritually appended to many Usenet postings

   (sometimes automatically, by the posting software) reiterating the

   fact (which should be obvious, but is easily forgotten) that the

   article reflects its author's opinions and not necessarily those of

   the organization running the machine through which the article entered

   the network.



   Node:Discordianism, Next:[4032]disk farm, Previous:[4033]disclaimer,

   Up:[4034]= D =


   Discordianism /dis-kor'di-*n-ism/ n.


   The veneration of [4035]Eris, a.k.a. Discordia; widely popular among

   hackers. Discordianism was popularized by Robert Shea and Robert Anton

   Wilson's novel "Illuminatus!" as a sort of self-subverting Dada-Zen

   for Westerners -- it should on no account be taken seriously but is

   far more serious than most jokes. Consider, for example, the Fifth

   Commandment of the Pentabarf, from "Principia Discordia": "A

   Discordian is Prohibited of Believing What he Reads." Discordianism is

   usually connected with an elaborate conspiracy theory/joke involving

   millennia-long warfare between the anarcho-surrealist partisans of

   Eris and a malevolent, authoritarian secret society called the

   Illuminati. See [4036]Religion in Appendix B, [4037]Church of the

   SubGenius, and [4038]ha ha only serious.



   Node:disk farm, Next:[4039]display hack, Previous:[4040]Discordianism,

   Up:[4041]= D =


   disk farm n.


   (also [4042]laundromat) A large room or rooms filled with disk drives

   (esp. [4043]washing machines).



   Node:display hack, Next:[4044]dispress, Previous:[4045]disk farm,

   Up:[4046]= D =


   display hack n.


   A program with the same approximate purpose as a kaleidoscope: to make

   pretty pictures. Famous display hacks include [4047]munching squares,

   [4048]smoking clover, the BSD Unix rain(6) program, worms(6) on

   miscellaneous Unixes, and the [4049]X kaleid(1) program. Display hacks

   can also be implemented by creating text files containing numerous

   escape sequences for interpretation by a video terminal; one notable

   example displayed, on any VT100, a Christmas tree with twinkling

   lights and a toy train circling its base. The [4050]hack value of a

   display hack is proportional to the esthetic value of the images times

   the cleverness of the algorithm divided by the size of the code. Syn.




   Node:dispress, Next:[4052]Dissociated Press, Previous:[4053]display

   hack, Up:[4054]= D =


   dispress vt.


   [contraction of `Dissociated Press' due to eight-character MS-DOS

   filenames] To apply the [4055]Dissociated Press algorithm to a block

   of text. The resultant output is also referred to as a 'dispression'.



   Node:Dissociated Press, Next:[4056]distribution,

   Previous:[4057]dispress, Up:[4058]= D =


   Dissociated Press n.


   [play on `Associated Press'; perhaps inspired by a reference in the

   1950 Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Up, Doc?"] An algorithm for

   transforming any text into potentially humorous garbage even more

   efficiently than by passing it through a [4059]marketroid. The

   algorithm starts by printing any N consecutive words (or letters) in

   the text. Then at every step it searches for any random occurrence in

   the original text of the last N words (or letters) already printed and

   then prints the next word or letter. [4060]EMACS has a handy command

   for this. Here is a short example of word-based Dissociated Press

   applied to an earlier version of this Jargon File:


     wart: n. A small, crocky [4061]feature that sticks out of an array

     (C has no checks for this). This is relatively benign and easy to

     spot if the phrase is bent so as to be not worth paying attention

     to the medium in question.


   Here is a short example of letter-based Dissociated Press applied to

   the same source:


     window sysIWYG: n. A bit was named aften /bee't*/ prefer to use the

     other guy's re, especially in every cast a chuckle on neithout

     getting into useful informash speech makes removing a featuring a

     move or usage actual abstractionsidered interj. Indeed spectace

     logic or problem!


   A hackish idle pastime is to apply letter-based Dissociated Press to a

   random body of text and [4062]vgrep the output in hopes of finding an

   interesting new word. (In the preceding example, `window sysIWYG' and

   `informash' show some promise.) Iterated applications of Dissociated

   Press usually yield better results. Similar techniques called

   `travesty generators' have been employed with considerable satirical

   effect to the utterances of Usenet flamers; see [4063]pseudo.



   Node:distribution, Next:[4064]distro, Previous:[4065]Dissociated

   Press, Up:[4066]= D =


   distribution n.


   1. A software source tree packaged for distribution; but see

   [4067]kit. Since about 1996 unqualified use of this term often implies

   `[4068]Linux distribution'. The short for [4069]distro is often used

   for this sense. 2. A vague term encompassing mailing lists and Usenet

   newsgroups (but not [4070]BBS [4071]fora); any topic-oriented message

   channel with multiple recipients. 3. An information-space domain

   (usually loosely correlated with geography) to which propagation of a

   Usenet message is restricted; a much-underutilized feature.



   Node:distro, Next:[4072]disusered, Previous:[4073]distribution,

   Up:[4074]= D =


   distro n.


   Synonym for [4075]distribution, sense 1.



   Node:disusered, Next:[4076]do protocol, Previous:[4077]distro,

   Up:[4078]= D =


   disusered adj.


   [Usenet] Said of a person whose account on a computer has been

   removed, esp. for cause rather than through normal attrition. "He got

   disusered when they found out he'd been cracking through the school's

   Internet access." The verbal form `disuser' is live but less common.

   Both usages probably derive from the DISUSER account status flag on

   VMS; setting it disables the account. Compare [4079]star out.



   Node:do protocol, Next:[4080]doc, Previous:[4081]disusered, Up:[4082]=

   D =


   do protocol vi.


   [from network protocol programming] To perform an interaction with

   somebody or something that follows a clearly defined procedure. For

   example, "Let's do protocol with the check" at a restaurant means to

   ask for the check, calculate the tip and everybody's share, collect

   money from everybody, generate change as necessary, and pay the bill.

   See [4083]protocol.



   Node:doc, Next:[4084]documentation, Previous:[4085]do protocol,

   Up:[4086]= D =


   doc /dok/ n.


   Common spoken and written shorthand for `documentation'. Often used in

   the plural `docs' and in the construction `doc file' (i.e.,

   documentation available on-line).



   Node:documentation, Next:[4087]dodgy, Previous:[4088]doc, Up:[4089]= D



   documentation n.


   The multiple kilograms of macerated, pounded, steamed, bleached, and

   pressed trees that accompany most modern software or hardware products

   (see also [4090]tree-killer). Hackers seldom read paper documentation

   and (too) often resist writing it; they prefer theirs to be terse and

   on-line. A common comment on this predilection is "You can't

   [4091]grep dead trees". See [4092]drool-proof paper, [4093]verbiage,




   Node:dodgy, Next:[4095]dogcow, Previous:[4096]documentation,

   Up:[4097]= D =


   dodgy adj.


   Syn. with [4098]flaky. Preferred outside the U.S.



   Node:dogcow, Next:[4099]dogfood, Previous:[4100]dodgy, Up:[4101]= D =


   dogcow /dog'kow/ n.


   See [4102]Moof. The dogcow is a semi-legendary creature that lurks in

   the depths of the Macintosh Technical Notes Hypercard stack V3.1. The

   full story of the dogcow is told in technical note #31 (the particular

   dogcow illustrated is properly named `Clarus'). Option-shift-click

   will cause it to emit a characteristic `Moof!' or `!fooM' sound.

   Getting to tech note 31 is the hard part; to discover how to do that,

   one must needs examine the stack script with a hackerly eye. Clue:

   [4103]rot13 is involved. A dogcow also appears if you choose `Page

   Setup...' with a LaserWriter selected and click on the `Options'

   button. It also lurks in other Mac printer drivers, notably those for

   the now-discontinued Style Writers. Sadly, Apple has removed the pages

   that used to describe the dogcow.



   Node:dogfood, Next:[4104]dogpile, Previous:[4105]dogcow, Up:[4106]= D



   dogfood n.


   [Microsoft, Netscape] Interim software used internally for testing.

   "To eat one's own dogfood" (from which the slang noun derives) means

   to use the software one is developing, as part of one's everyday

   development environment (the phrase is used outside Microsoft and

   Netscape). The practice is normal in the Linux community and

   elsewhere, but the term `dogfood' is seldom used as open-source betas

   tend to be quite tasty and nourishing. The idea is that developers who

   are using their own software will quickly learn what's missing or

   broken. Dogfood is typically not even of [4107]beta quality.



   Node:dogpile, Next:[4108]dogwash, Previous:[4109]dogfood, Up:[4110]= D



   dogpile v.


   [Usenet: prob. fr. mainstream "puppy pile"] When many people post

   unfriendly responses in short order to a single posting, they are

   sometimes said to "dogpile" or "dogpile on" the person to whom they're

   responding. For example, when a religious missionary posts a

   simplistic appeal to alt.atheism, he can expect to be dogpiled. It has

   been suggested that this derives from U.S, football slang for a tackle

   involving three or more people; among hackers, it seems at least as

   likely do derive from an `autobiographical' Bugs Bunny cartoon in

   which a gang of attacking canines actually yells "Dogpile on the




   Node:dogwash, Next:[4111]domainist, Previous:[4112]dogpile, Up:[4113]=

   D =


   dogwash /dog'wosh/


   [From a quip in the `urgency' field of a very optional software change

   request, ca. 1982. It was something like "Urgency: Wash your dog

   first".] 1. n. A project of minimal priority, undertaken as an escape

   from more serious work. 2. v. To engage in such a project. Many games

   and much [4114]freeware get written this way.



   Node:domainist, Next:[4115]Don't do that then!,

   Previous:[4116]dogwash, Up:[4117]= D =


   domainist /doh-mayn'ist/ adj.


   1. [Usenet, by pointed analogy with "sexist", "racist", etc.] Someone

   who judges people by the domain of their email addresses; esp. someone

   who dismisses anyone who posts from a public internet provider. "What

   do you expect from an article posted from" 2. Said of an

   [4118]Internet address (as opposed to a [4119]bang path) because the

   part to the right of the @ specifies a nested series of `domains'; for

   example, [4120] specifies the machine called

   snark in the subdomain called thyrsus within the top-level domain

   called com. See also [4121]big-endian, sense 2.


   The meaning of this term has drifted. At one time sense 2 was primary.

   In elder days it was also used of a site, mailer, or routing program

   which knew how to handle domainist addresses; or of a person (esp. a

   site admin) who preferred domain addressing, supported a domainist

   mailer, or proselytized for domainist addressing and disdained

   [4122]bang paths. These senses are now (1996) obsolete, as effectively

   all sites have converted.



   Node:Don't do that then!, Next:[4123]dongle, Previous:[4124]domainist,

   Up:[4125]= D =


   Don't do that then! imp.


   [from an old doctor's office joke about a patient with a trivial

   complaint] Stock response to a user complaint. "When I type control-S,

   the whole system comes to a halt for thirty seconds." "Don't do that,

   then!" (or "So don't do that!"). Compare [4126]RTFM.


   Here's a classic example of "Don't do that then!" from Neil

   Stephenson's "In The Beginning Was The Command Line". A friend of his

   built a network with a load of Macs and a few high-powered database

   servers. He found that from time to time the whole network would lock

   up for no apparent reason. The problem was eventually tracked down to

   MacOS's cooperative multitasking: when a user held down the mouse

   button for too long, the network stack wouldn't get a chance to run...



   Node:dongle, Next:[4127]dongle-disk, Previous:[4128]Don't do that

   then!, Up:[4129]= D =


   dongle /dong'gl/ n.


   1. [now obs.] A security or [4130]copy protection device for

   proprietary software consisting of a serialized EPROM and some drivers

   in a D-25 connector shell, which must be connected to an I/O port of

   the computer while the program is run. Programs that use a dongle

   query the port at startup and at programmed intervals thereafter, and

   terminate if it does not respond with the dongle's programmed

   validation code. Thus, users can make as many copies of the program as

   they want but must pay for each dongle. The idea was clever, but it

   was initially a failure, as users disliked tying up a serial port this

   way. By 1993, dongles would typically pass data through the port and

   monitor for [4131]magic codes (and combinations of status lines) with

   minimal if any interference with devices further down the line -- this

   innovation was necessary to allow daisy-chained dongles for multiple

   pieces of software. These devices have become rare as the industry has

   moved away from copy-protection schemes in general. 2. By extension,

   any physical electronic key or transferable ID required for a program

   to function. Common variations on this theme have used parallel or

   even joystick ports. See [4132]dongle-disk. 3. An adaptor cable mating

   a special edge-type connector on a PCMCIA or on-board Ethernet card to

   a standard RJ45 Ethernet jack. This usage seems to have surfaced in

   1999 and is now dominant. Laptop owners curse these things because

   they're notoriously easy to lose and the vendors commonly charge

   extortionate prices for replacements.


   [Note: in early 1992, advertising copy from Rainbow Technologies (a

   manufacturer of dongles) included a claim that the word derived from

   "Don Gall", allegedly the inventor of the device. The company's

   receptionist will cheerfully tell you that the story is a myth

   invented for the ad copy. Nevertheless, I expect it to haunt my life

   as a lexicographer for at least the next ten years. :-( --ESR]



   Node:dongle-disk, Next:[4133]donuts, Previous:[4134]dongle, Up:[4135]=

   D =


   dongle-disk /don'gl disk/ n.


   A special floppy disk that is required in order to perform some task.

   Some contain special coding that allows an application to identify it

   uniquely, others are special code that does something that

   normally-resident programs don't or can't. (For example, AT&T's "Unix

   PC" would only come up in [4136]root mode with a special boot disk.)

   Also called a `key disk'. See [4137]dongle.



   Node:donuts, Next:[4138]doorstop, Previous:[4139]dongle-disk,

   Up:[4140]= D =


   donuts n. obs.


   A collective noun for any set of memory bits. This usage is extremely

   archaic and may no longer be live jargon; it dates from the days of

   ferrite-[4141]core memories in which each bit was implemented by a

   doughnut-shaped magnetic flip-flop.



   Node:doorstop, Next:[4142]DoS attack, Previous:[4143]donuts,

   Up:[4144]= D =


   doorstop n.


   Used to describe equipment that is non-functional and halfway expected

   to remain so, especially obsolete equipment kept around for political

   reasons or ostensibly as a backup. "When we get another Wyse-50 in

   here, that ADM 3 will turn into a doorstop." Compare [4145]boat




   Node:DoS attack, Next:[4146]dot file, Previous:[4147]doorstop,

   Up:[4148]= D =


   DoS attack //


   [Usenet,common; note that it's unrelated to `DOS' as name of an

   operating system] Abbreviation for Denial-Of-Service attack. This

   abbreviation is most often used of attempts to shut down newsgroups

   with floods of [4149]spam, or to flood network links with large

   amounts of traffic, or to flood network links with large amounts of

   traffic, often by abusing network broadcast addresses Compare

   [4150]slashdot effect.



   Node:dot file, Next:[4151]double bucky, Previous:[4152]DoS attack,

   Up:[4153]= D =


   dot file [Unix] n.


   A file that is not visible by default to normal directory-browsing

   tools (on Unix, files named with a leading dot are, by convention, not

   normally presented in directory listings). Many programs define one or

   more dot files in which startup or configuration information may be

   optionally recorded; a user can customize the program's behavior by

   creating the appropriate file in the current or home directory.

   (Therefore, dot files tend to [4154]creep -- with every nontrivial

   application program defining at least one, a user's home directory can

   be filled with scores of dot files, of course without the user's

   really being aware of it.) See also [4155]profile (sense 1), [4156]rc




   Node:double bucky, Next:[4157]doubled sig, Previous:[4158]dot file,

   Up:[4159]= D =


   double bucky adj.


   Using both the CTRL and META keys. "The command to burn all LEDs is

   double bucky F."


   This term originated on the Stanford extended-ASCII keyboard, and was

   later taken up by users of the [4160]space-cadet keyboard at MIT. A

   typical MIT comment was that the Stanford [4161]bucky bits (control

   and meta shifting keys) were nice, but there weren't enough of them;

   you could type only 512 different characters on a Stanford keyboard.

   An obvious way to address this was simply to add more shifting keys,

   and this was eventually done; but a keyboard with that many shifting

   keys is hard on touch-typists, who don't like to move their hands away

   from the home position on the keyboard. It was half-seriously

   suggested that the extra shifting keys be implemented as pedals;

   typing on such a keyboard would be very much like playing a full pipe

   organ. This idea is mentioned in a parody of a very fine song by

   Jeffrey Moss called "Rubber Duckie", which was published in "The

   Sesame Street Songbook" (Simon and Schuster 1971, ISBN 0-671-21036-X).

   These lyrics were written on May 27, 1978, in celebration of the

   Stanford keyboard:

                        Double Bucky

        Double bucky, you're the one!

        You make my keyboard lots of fun.

            Double bucky, an additional bit or two:


        Control and meta, side by side,

        Augmented ASCII, nine bits wide!

            Double bucky!  Half a thousand glyphs, plus a few!


                I sure wish that I

                Had a couple of

                    Bits more!

                Perhaps a

                Set of pedals to

                Make the number of

                    Bits four:

                Double double bucky!

        Double bucky, left and right

        OR'd together, outta sight!

            Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of

            Double bucky, I'm happy I heard of

            Double bucky, I'd like a whole word of you!

        --- The Great Quux (with apologies to Jeffrey Moss)

   [This, by the way, is an excellent example of computer [4162]filk

   --ESR] See also [4163]meta bit, [4164]cokebottle, and [4165]quadruple




   Node:doubled sig, Next:[4166]down, Previous:[4167]double bucky,

   Up:[4168]= D =


   doubled sig [Usenet] n.


   A [4169]sig block that has been included twice in a [4170]Usenet

   article or, less commonly, in an electronic mail message. An article

   or message with a doubled sig can be caused by improperly configured

   software. More often, however, it reveals the author's lack of

   experience in electronic communication. See [4171]B1FF, [4172]pseudo.



   Node:down, Next:[4173]download, Previous:[4174]doubled sig, Up:[4175]=

   D =




   1. adj. Not operating. "The up escalator is down" is considered a

   humorous thing to say (unless of course you were expecting to use it),

   and "The elevator is down" always means "The elevator isn't working"

   and never refers to what floor the elevator is on. With respect to

   computers, this term has passed into the mainstream; the extension to

   other kinds of machine is still confined to techies (e.g. boiler

   mechanics may speak of a boiler being down). 2. `go down' vi. To stop

   functioning; usually said of the [4176]system. The message from the

   [4177]console that every hacker hates to hear from the operator is

   "System going down in 5 minutes". 3. `take down', `bring down' vt. To

   deactivate purposely, usually for repair work or [4178]PM. "I'm taking

   the system down to work on that bug in the tape drive." Occasionally

   one hears the word `down' by itself used as a verb in this vt. sense.

   See [4179]crash; oppose [4180]up.



   Node:download, Next:[4181]DP, Previous:[4182]down, Up:[4183]= D =


   download vt.


   To transfer data or (esp.) code from a far-away system (especially a

   larger `host' system) over a digital communications link to a nearby

   system (especially a smaller `client' system. Oppose [4184]upload.


   Historical use of these terms was at one time associated with

   transfers from large timesharing machines to PCs or peripherals

   (download) and vice-versa (upload). The modern usage relative to the

   speaker (rather than as an indicator of the size and role of the

   machines) evolved as machine categories lost most of their former

   functional importance.



   Node:DP, Next:[4185]DPB, Previous:[4186]download, Up:[4187]= D =


   DP /D-P/ n.


   1. Data Processing. Listed here because, according to hackers, use of

   the term marks one immediately as a [4188]suit. See [4189]DPer. 2.

   Common abbrev for [4190]Dissociated Press.



   Node:DPB, Next:[4191]DPer, Previous:[4192]DP, Up:[4193]= D =


   DPB /d*-pib'/ vt.


   [from the PDP-10 instruction set] To plop something down in the

   middle. Usage: silly. "DPB yourself into that couch there." The

   connotation would be that the couch is full except for one slot just

   big enough for one last person to sit in. DPB means `DePosit Byte',

   and was the name of a PDP-10 instruction that inserts some bits into

   the middle of some other bits. Hackish usage has been kept alive by

   the Common LISP function of the same name.



   Node:DPer, Next:[4194]Dr. Fred Mbogo, Previous:[4195]DPB, Up:[4196]= D



   DPer /dee-pee-er/ n.


   Data Processor. Hackers are absolutely amazed that [4197]suits use

   this term self-referentially. Computers process data, not people! See




   Node:Dr. Fred Mbogo, Next:[4199]dragon, Previous:[4200]DPer,

   Up:[4201]= D =


   Dr. Fred Mbogo /*m-boh'goh, dok'tr fred/ n.


   [Stanford] The archetypal man you don't want to see about a problem,

   esp. an incompetent professional; a shyster. "Do you know a good eye

   doctor?" "Sure, try Mbogo Eye Care and Professional Dry Cleaning." The

   name comes from synergy between [4202]bogus and the original Dr.

   Mbogo, a witch doctor who was Gomez Addams' physician on the old

   "Addams Family" TV show. Interestingly enough, it turns out that under

   the rules for Swahili noun classes, `m-' is the characteristic prefix

   of "nouns referring to human beings". As such, "mbogo" is quite

   plausible as a Swahili coinage for a person having the nature of a

   [4203]bogon. Compare [4204]Bloggs Family and [4205]J. Random Hacker;

   see also [4206]Fred Foobar and [4207]fred.



   Node:dragon, Next:[4208]Dragon Book, Previous:[4209]Dr. Fred Mbogo,

   Up:[4210]= D =


   dragon n.


   [MIT] A program similar to a [4211]daemon, except that it is not

   invoked at all, but is instead used by the system to perform various

   secondary tasks. A typical example would be an accounting program,

   which keeps track of who is logged in, accumulates load-average

   statistics, etc. Under ITS, many terminals displayed a list of people

   logged in, where they were, what they were running, etc., along with

   some random picture (such as a unicorn, Snoopy, or the Enterprise),

   which was generated by the `name dragon'. Usage: rare outside MIT --

   under Unix and most other OSes this would be called a `background

   demon' or [4212]daemon. The best-known Unix example of a dragon is

   cron(1). At SAIL, they called this sort of thing a `phantom'.



   Node:Dragon Book, Next:[4213]drain, Previous:[4214]dragon, Up:[4215]=

   D =


   Dragon Book n.


   The classic text "Compilers: Principles, Techniques and Tools", by

   Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi, and Jeffrey D. Ullman (Addison-Wesley 1986;

   ISBN 0-201-10088-6), so called because of the cover design featuring a

   dragon labeled `complexity of compiler design' and a knight bearing

   the lance `LALR parser generator' among his other trappings. This one

   is more specifically known as the `Red Dragon Book' (1986); an earlier

   edition, sans Sethi and titled "Principles Of Compiler Design" (Alfred

   V. Aho and Jeffrey D. Ullman; Addison-Wesley, 1977; ISBN

   0-201-00022-9), was the `Green Dragon Book' (1977). (Also `New Dragon

   Book', `Old Dragon Book'.) The horsed knight and the Green Dragon were

   warily eying each other at a distance; now the knight is typing

   (wearing gauntlets!) at a terminal showing a video-game representation

   of the Red Dragon's head while the rest of the beast extends back in

   normal space. See also [4216]book titles.



   Node:drain, Next:[4217]dread high-bit disease, Previous:[4218]Dragon

   Book, Up:[4219]= D =


   drain v.


   [IBM] Syn. for [4220]flush (sense 2). Has a connotation of finality

   about it; one speaks of draining a device before taking it offline.



   Node:dread high-bit disease, Next:[4221]Dread Questionmark Disease,

   Previous:[4222]drain, Up:[4223]= D =


   dread high-bit disease n.


   A condition endemic to some now-obsolete computers and peripherals

   (including ASR-33 teletypes and PRIME minicomputers) that results in

   all characters having their high (0x80) bit forced on. This of course

   makes transporting files to other systems much more difficult, not to

   mention the problems these machines have talking with true 8-bit



   This term was originally used specifically of PRIME (a.k.a. PR1ME)

   minicomputers. Folklore has it that PRIME adopted the reversed-8-bit

   convention in order to save 25 cents per serial line per machine;

   PRIME old-timers, on the other hand, claim they inherited the disease

   from Honeywell via customer NASA's compatibility requirements and

   struggled heroically to cure it. Whoever was responsible, this

   probably qualifies as one of the most [4224]cretinous design tradeoffs

   ever made. See [4225]meta bit.



   Node:Dread Questionmark Disease, Next:[4226]DRECNET,

   Previous:[4227]dread high-bit disease, Up:[4228]= D =


   Dread Questionmark Disease


   n. The result of saving HTML from Microsoft Word or some other program

   that uses the nonstandard Microsoft variant of Latin-1; the symptom is

   that various of those nonstandard characters in positions 128-160 show

   up as questionmarks. The usual culprit is the misnamed `smart quotes'

   feature in Microsoft Word. For more details (and a program called

   `demoroniser' that cleans up the mess) see




   Node:DRECNET, Next:[4230]driver, Previous:[4231]Dread Questionmark

   Disease, Up:[4232]= D =


   DRECNET /drek'net/ n.


   [from Yiddish/German `dreck', meaning filth] Deliberate distortion of

   DECNET, a networking protocol used in the [4233]VMS community. So

   called because [4234]DEC helped write the Ethernet specification and

   then (either stupidly or as a malignant customer-control tactic)

   violated that spec in the design of DRECNET in a way that made it

   incompatible. See also [4235]connector conspiracy.



   Node:driver, Next:[4236]droid, Previous:[4237]DRECNET, Up:[4238]= D =


   driver n.


   1. The [4239]main loop of an event-processing program; the code that

   gets commands and dispatches them for execution. 2. [techspeak] In

   `device driver', code designed to handle a particular peripheral

   device such as a magnetic disk or tape unit. 3. In the TeX world and

   the computerized typesetting world in general, a program that

   translates some device-independent or other common format to something

   a real device can actually understand.



   Node:droid, Next:[4240]drone, Previous:[4241]driver, Up:[4242]= D =


   droid n.


   [from `android', SF terminology for a humanoid robot of essentially

   biological (as opposed to mechanical/electronic) construction] A

   person (esp. a low-level bureaucrat or service-business employee)

   exhibiting most of the following characteristics: (a) naive trust in

   the wisdom of the parent organization or `the system'; (b) a

   blind-faith propensity to believe obvious nonsense emitted by

   authority figures (or computers!); (c) a rule-governed mentality, one

   unwilling or unable to look beyond the `letter of the law' in

   exceptional situations; (d) a paralyzing fear of official reprimand or

   worse if Procedures are not followed No Matter What; and (e) no

   interest in doing anything above or beyond the call of a very

   narrowly-interpreted duty, or in particular in fixing that which is

   broken; an "It's not my job, man" attitude.


   Typical droid positions include supermarket checkout assistant and

   bank clerk; the syndrome is also endemic in low-level government

   employees. The implication is that the rules and official procedures

   constitute software that the droid is executing; problems arise when

   the software has not been properly debugged. The term `droid

   mentality' is also used to describe the mindset behind this behavior.

   Compare [4243]suit, [4244]marketroid; see [4245]-oid.


   In England there is equivalent mainstream slang; a `jobsworth' is an

   obstructive, rule-following bureaucrat, often of the uniformed or

   suited variety. Named for the habit of denying a reasonable request by

   sucking his teeth and saying "Oh no, guv, sorry I can't help you:

   that's more than my job's worth".



   Node:drone, Next:[4246]drool-proof paper, Previous:[4247]droid,

   Up:[4248]= D =


   drone n.


   Ignorant sales or customer service personnel in computer or

   electronics superstores. Characterized by a lack of even superficial

   knowledge about the products they sell, yet possessed of the

   conviction that they are more competent than their hacker customers.

   Usage: "That video board probably sucks, it was recommended by a drone

   at Fry's" In the year 2000, their natural habitats include Fry's

   Electronics, Best Buy, and CompUSA.



   Node:drool-proof paper, Next:[4249]drop on the floor,

   Previous:[4250]drone, Up:[4251]= D =


   drool-proof paper n.


   Documentation that has been obsessively [4252]dumbed down, to the

   point where only a [4253]cretin could bear to read it, is said to have

   succumbed to the `drool-proof paper syndrome' or to have been `written

   on drool-proof paper'. For example, this is an actual quote from

   Apple's LaserWriter manual: "Do not expose your LaserWriter to open

   fire or flame." The SGI Indy manual is said to include the line "Do

   not dangle the mouse by the cord or throw it at coworkers.", but this

   sounds like parody.



   Node:drop on the floor, Next:[4254]drop-ins,

   Previous:[4255]drool-proof paper, Up:[4256]= D =


   drop on the floor vt.


   To react to an error condition by silently discarding messages or

   other valuable data. "The gateway ran out of memory, so it just

   started dropping packets on the floor." Also frequently used of faulty

   mail and netnews relay sites that lose messages. See also [4257]black

   hole, [4258]bit bucket.



   Node:drop-ins, Next:[4259]drop-outs, Previous:[4260]drop on the floor,

   Up:[4261]= D =


   drop-ins n.


   [prob. by analogy with [4262]drop-outs] Spurious characters appearing

   on a terminal or console as a result of line noise or a system

   malfunction of some sort. Esp. used when these are interspersed with

   one's own typed input. Compare [4263]drop-outs, sense 2.



   Node:drop-outs, Next:[4264]drugged, Previous:[4265]drop-ins,

   Up:[4266]= D =


   drop-outs n.


   1. A variety of `power glitch' (see [4267]glitch); momentary 0 voltage

   on the electrical mains. 2. Missing characters in typed input due to

   software malfunction or system saturation (one cause of such behavior

   under Unix when a bad connection to a modem swamps the processor with

   spurious character interrupts; see [4268]screaming tty). 3. Mental

   glitches; used as a way of describing those occasions when the mind

   just seems to shut down for a couple of beats. See [4269]glitch,




   Node:drugged, Next:[4271]drum, Previous:[4272]drop-outs, Up:[4273]= D



   drugged adj.


   (also `on drugs') 1. Conspicuously stupid, heading toward

   [4274]brain-damaged. Often accompanied by a pantomime of toking a

   joint. 2. Of hardware, very slow relative to normal performance.



   Node:drum, Next:[4275]drunk mouse syndrome, Previous:[4276]drugged,

   Up:[4277]= D =


   drum adj, n.


   Ancient techspeak term referring to slow, cylindrical magnetic media

   that were once state-of-the-art storage devices. Under BSD Unix the

   disk partition used for swapping is still called /dev/drum; this has

   led to considerable humor and not a few straight-faced but utterly

   bogus `explanations' getting foisted on [4278]newbies. See also

   "[4279]The Story of Mel" in Appendix A.



   Node:drunk mouse syndrome, Next:[4280]dub dub dub,

   Previous:[4281]drum, Up:[4282]= D =


   drunk mouse syndrome n.


   (also `mouse on drugs') A malady exhibited by the mouse pointing

   device of some computers. The typical symptom is for the mouse cursor

   on the screen to move in random directions and not in sync with the

   motion of the actual mouse. Can usually be corrected by unplugging the

   mouse and plugging it back again. Another recommended fix for optical

   mice is to rotate your mouse pad 90 degrees.


   At Xerox PARC in the 1970s, most people kept a can of copier cleaner

   (isopropyl alcohol) at their desks. When the steel ball on the mouse

   had picked up enough [4283]cruft to be unreliable, the mouse was

   doused in cleaner, which restored it for a while. However, this

   operation left a fine residue that accelerated the accumulation of

   cruft, so the dousings became more and more frequent. Finally, the

   mouse was declared `alcoholic' and sent to the clinic to be dried out

   in a CFC ultrasonic bath.



   Node:dub dub dub, Next:[4284]Duff's device, Previous:[4285]drunk mouse

   syndrome, Up:[4286]= D =


   dub dub dub


   [common] Spoken-only shorthand for the "www" (double-u double-u

   double-u) in many web host names. Nothing to do with the style of

   reggae music called `dub'.



   Node:Duff's device, Next:[4287]dumb terminal, Previous:[4288]dub dub

   dub, Up:[4289]= D =


   Duff's device n.


   The most dramatic use yet seen of [4290]fall through in C, invented by

   Tom Duff when he was at Lucasfilm. Trying to [4291]bum all the

   instructions he could out of an inner loop that copied data serially

   onto an output port, he decided to unroll it. He then realized that

   the unrolled version could be implemented by interlacing the

   structures of a switch and a loop:

   register n = (count + 7) / 8;      /* count > 0 assumed */

   switch (count % 8)


   case 0:        do {  *to = *from++;

   case 7:              *to = *from++;

   case 6:              *to = *from++;

   case 5:              *to = *from++;

   case 4:              *to = *from++;

   case 3:              *to = *from++;

   case 2:              *to = *from++;

   case 1:              *to = *from++;

                      } while (--n > 0);


   Shocking though it appears to all who encounter it for the first time,

   the device is actually perfectly valid, legal C. C's default

   [4292]fall through in case statements has long been its most

   controversial single feature; Duff observed that "This code forms some

   sort of argument in that debate, but I'm not sure whether it's for or

   against." Duff has discussed the device in detail at

   [4293] Note that the

   omission of postfix ++ from *to was intentional (though confusing).

   Duff's device can be used to implement memory copy, but the original

   aim was to copy values serially into a magic IO register.


   [For maximal obscurity, the outermost pair of braces above could

   actually be removed -- GLS]



   Node:dumb terminal, Next:[4294]dumbass attack, Previous:[4295]Duff's

   device, Up:[4296]= D =


   dumb terminal n.


   A terminal that is one step above a [4297]glass tty, having a

   minimally addressable cursor but no on-screen editing or other

   features normally supported by a [4298]smart terminal. Once upon a

   time, when glass ttys were common and addressable cursors were

   something special, what is now called a dumb terminal could pass for a

   smart terminal.



   Node:dumbass attack, Next:[4299]dumbed down, Previous:[4300]dumb

   terminal, Up:[4301]= D =


   dumbass attack /duhm'as *-tak'/ n.


   [Purdue] Notional cause of a novice's mistake made by the experienced,

   especially one made while running as [4302]root under Unix, e.g.,

   typing rm -r * or mkfs on a mounted file system. Compare [4303]adger.



   Node:dumbed down, Next:[4304]dump, Previous:[4305]dumbass attack,

   Up:[4306]= D =


   dumbed down adj.


   Simplified, with a strong connotation of oversimplified. Often, a

   [4307]marketroid will insist that the interfaces and documentation of

   software be dumbed down after the designer has burned untold gallons

   of midnight oil making it smart. This creates friction. See




   Node:dump, Next:[4309]dumpster diving, Previous:[4310]dumbed down,

   Up:[4311]= D =


   dump n.


   1. An undigested and voluminous mass of information about a problem or

   the state of a system, especially one routed to the slowest available

   output device (compare [4312]core dump), and most especially one

   consisting of hex or octal [4313]runes describing the byte-by-byte

   state of memory, mass storage, or some file. In [4314]elder days,

   debugging was generally done by `groveling over' a dump (see

   [4315]grovel); increasing use of high-level languages and interactive

   debuggers has made such tedium uncommon, and the term `dump' now has a

   faintly archaic flavor. 2. A backup. This usage is typical only at

   large timesharing installations.



   Node:dumpster diving, Next:[4316]dup killer, Previous:[4317]dump,

   Up:[4318]= D =


   dumpster diving /dump'-ster di:'-ving/ n.


   1. The practice of sifting refuse from an office or technical

   installation to extract confidential data, especially

   security-compromising information (`dumpster' is an Americanism for

   what is elsewhere called a `skip'). Back in AT&T's monopoly days,

   before paper shredders became common office equipment, phone phreaks

   (see [4319]phreaking) used to organize regular dumpster runs against

   phone company plants and offices. Discarded and damaged copies of AT&T

   internal manuals taught them much. The technique is still rumored to

   be a favorite of crackers operating against careless targets. 2. The

   practice of raiding the dumpsters behind buildings where producers

   and/or consumers of high-tech equipment are located, with the

   expectation (usually justified) of finding discarded but

   still-valuable equipment to be nursed back to health in some hacker's

   den. Experienced dumpster-divers not infrequently accumulate basements

   full of moldering (but still potentially useful) [4320]cruft.



   Node:dup killer, Next:[4321]dup loop, Previous:[4322]dumpster diving,

   Up:[4323]= D =


   dup killer /d[y]oop kill'r/ n.


   [FidoNet] Software that is supposed to detect and delete duplicates of

   a message that may have reached the FidoNet system via different




   Node:dup loop, Next:[4324]dusty deck, Previous:[4325]dup killer,

   Up:[4326]= D =


   dup loop /d[y]oop loop/ (also `dupe loop') n.


   [FidoNet] An infinite stream of duplicated, near-identical messages on

   a FidoNet [4327]echo, the only difference being unique or mangled

   identification information applied by a faulty or incorrectly

   configured system or network gateway, thus rendering [4328]dup killers

   ineffective. If such a duplicate message eventually reaches a system

   through which it has already passed (with the original identification

   information), all systems passed on the way back to that system are

   said to be involved in a [4329]dup loop.



   Node:dusty deck, Next:[4330]DWIM, Previous:[4331]dup loop, Up:[4332]=

   D =


   dusty deck n.


   Old software (especially applications) which one is obliged to remain

   compatible with, or to maintain ([4333]DP types call this `legacy

   code', a term hackers consider smarmy and excessively reverent). The

   term implies that the software in question is a holdover from

   card-punch days. Used esp. when referring to old scientific and

   [4334]number-crunching software, much of which was written in FORTRAN

   and very poorly documented but is believed to be too expensive to

   replace. See [4335]fossil; compare [4336]crawling horror.



   Node:DWIM, Next:[4337]dynner, Previous:[4338]dusty deck, Up:[4339]= D



   DWIM /dwim/


   [acronym, `Do What I Mean'] 1. adj. Able to guess, sometimes even

   correctly, the result intended when bogus input was provided. 2. n.

   obs. The BBNLISP/INTERLISP function that attempted to accomplish this

   feat by correcting many of the more common errors. See [4340]hairy. 3.

   Occasionally, an interjection hurled at a balky computer, esp. when

   one senses one might be tripping over legalisms (see [4341]legalese).

   4. Of a person, someone whose directions are incomprehensible and

   vague, but who nevertheless has the expectation that you will solve

   the problem using the specific method he/she has in mind.


   Warren Teitelman originally wrote DWIM to fix his typos and spelling

   errors, so it was somewhat idiosyncratic to his style, and would often

   make hash of anyone else's typos if they were stylistically different.

   Some victims of DWIM thus claimed that the acronym stood for `Damn

   Warren's Infernal Machine!'.


   In one notorious incident, Warren added a DWIM feature to the command

   interpreter used at Xerox PARC. One day another hacker there typed

   delete *$ to free up some disk space. (The editor there named backup

   files by appending $ to the original file name, so he was trying to

   delete any backup files left over from old editing sessions.) It

   happened that there weren't any editor backup files, so DWIM helpfully

   reported *$ not found, assuming you meant 'delete *'. It then started

   to delete all the files on the disk! The hacker managed to stop it

   with a [4342]Vulcan nerve pinch after only a half dozen or so files

   were lost.


   The disgruntled victim later said he had been sorely tempted to go to

   Warren's office, tie Warren down in his chair in front of his

   workstation, and then type delete *$ twice.


   DWIM is often suggested in jest as a desired feature for a complex

   program; it is also occasionally described as the single instruction

   the ideal computer would have. Back when proofs of program correctness

   were in vogue, there were also jokes about `DWIMC' (Do What I Mean,

   Correctly). A related term, more often seen as a verb, is DTRT (Do The

   Right Thing); see [4343]Right Thing.



   Node:dynner, Next:[4344]earthquake, Previous:[4345]DWIM, Up:[4346]= D



   dynner /din'r/ n.


   32 bits, by analogy with [4347]nybble and [4348]byte. Usage: rare and

   extremely silly. See also [4349]playte, [4350]tayste, [4351]crumb.

   General discussion of such terms is under [4352]nybble.



   Node:= E =, Next:[4353]= F =, Previous:[4354]= D =, Up:[4355]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= E =

     * [4356]earthquake:

     * [4357]Easter egg:

     * [4358]Easter egging:

     * [4359]eat flaming death:

     * [4360]EBCDIC:

     * [4361]echo:

     * [4362]ECP:

     * [4363]ed:

     * [4364]egosurf:

     * [4365]eighty-column mind:

     * [4366]El Camino Bignum:

     * [4367]elder days:

     * [4368]elegant:

     * [4369]elephantine:

     * [4370]elevator controller:

     * [4371]elite:

     * [4372]ELIZA effect:

     * [4373]elvish:

     * [4374]EMACS:

     * [4375]email:

     * [4376]emoticon:

     * [4377]EMP:

     * [4378]empire:

     * [4379]engine:

     * [4380]English:

     * [4381]enhancement:

     * [4382]ENQ:

     * [4383]EOF:

     * [4384]EOL:

     * [4385]EOU:

     * [4386]epoch:

     * [4387]epsilon:

     * [4388]epsilon squared:

     * [4389]era the:

     * [4390]Eric Conspiracy:

     * [4391]Eris:

     * [4392]erotics:

     * [4393]error 33:

     * [4394]eurodemo:

     * [4395]evil:

     * [4396]evil and rude:

     * [4397]Evil Empire:

     * [4398]exa-:

     * [4399]examining the entrails:

     * [4400]EXCH:

     * [4401]excl:

     * [4402]EXE:

     * [4403]exec:

     * [4404]exercise left as an:

     * [4405]Exon:

     * [4406]Exploder:

     * [4407]exploit:

     * [4408]external memory:

     * [4409]eye candy:

     * [4410]eyeball search:



   Node:earthquake, Next:[4411]Easter egg, Previous:[4412]dynner,

   Up:[4413]= E =


   earthquake n.


   [IBM] The ultimate real-world shock test for computer hardware.

   Hackish sources at IBM deny the rumor that the Bay Area quake of 1989

   was initiated by the company to test quality-assurance procedures at

   its California plants.



   Node:Easter egg, Next:[4414]Easter egging, Previous:[4415]earthquake,

   Up:[4416]= E =


   Easter egg n.


   [from the custom of the Easter Egg hunt observed in the U.S. and many

   parts of Europe] 1. A message hidden in the object code of a program

   as a joke, intended to be found by persons disassembling or browsing

   the code. 2. A message, graphic, or sound effect emitted by a program

   (or, on a PC, the BIOS ROM) in response to some undocumented set of

   commands or keystrokes, intended as a joke or to display program

   credits. One well-known early Easter egg found in a couple of OSes

   caused them to respond to the command make love with not war?. Many

   personal computers have much more elaborate eggs hidden in ROM,

   including lists of the developers' names, political exhortations,

   snatches of music, and (in one case) graphics images of the entire

   development team.



   Node:Easter egging, Next:[4417]eat flaming death,

   Previous:[4418]Easter egg, Up:[4419]= E =


   Easter egging n.


   [IBM] The act of replacing unrelated components more or less at random

   in hopes that a malfunction will go away. Hackers consider this the

   normal operating mode of [4420]field circus techs and do not love them

   for it. See also the jokes under [4421]field circus. Compare

   [4422]shotgun debugging.



   Node:eat flaming death, Next:[4423]EBCDIC, Previous:[4424]Easter

   egging, Up:[4425]= E =


   eat flaming death imp.


   A construction popularized among hackers by the infamous [4426]CPU

   Wars comic; supposedly derive from a famously turgid line in a

   WWII-era anti-Nazi propaganda comic that ran "Eat flaming death,

   non-Aryan mongrels!" or something of the sort (however, it is also

   reported that the Firesign Theatre's 1975 album "In The Next World,

   You're On Your Own" a character won the right to scream "Eat flaming

   death, fascist media pigs" in the middle of Oscar night on a game

   show; this may have been an influence). Used in humorously overblown

   expressions of hostility. "Eat flaming death, [4427]EBCDIC users!"



   Node:EBCDIC, Next:[4428]echo, Previous:[4429]eat flaming death,

   Up:[4430]= E =


   EBCDIC /eb's*-dik/, /eb'see`dik/, or /eb'k*-dik/ n.


   [abbreviation, Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code] An

   alleged character set used on IBM [4431]dinosaurs. It exists in at

   least six mutually incompatible versions, all featuring such delights

   as non-contiguous letter sequences and the absence of several ASCII

   punctuation characters fairly important for modern computer languages

   (exactly which characters are absent varies according to which version

   of EBCDIC you're looking at). IBM adapted EBCDIC from [4432]punched

   card code in the early 1960s and promulgated it as a customer-control

   tactic (see [4433]connector conspiracy), spurning the already

   established ASCII standard. Today, IBM claims to be an open-systems

   company, but IBM's own description of the EBCDIC variants and how to

   convert between them is still internally classified top-secret,

   burn-before-reading. Hackers blanch at the very name of EBCDIC and

   consider it a manifestation of purest [4434]evil. See also [4435]fear

   and loathing.



   Node:echo, Next:[4436]ECP, Previous:[4437]EBCDIC, Up:[4438]= E =


   echo [FidoNet] n.


   A [4439]topic group on [4440]FidoNet's echomail system. Compare




   Node:ECP, Next:[4442]ed, Previous:[4443]echo, Up:[4444]= E =


   ECP /E-C-P/ n.


   See [4445]spam and [4446]velveeta.



   Node:ed, Next:[4447]egosurf, Previous:[4448]ECP, Up:[4449]= E =


   ed n.


   "ed is the standard text editor." Line taken from original the

   [4450]Unix manual page on ed, an ancient line-oriented editor that is

   by now used only by a few [4451]Real Programmers, and even then only

   for batch operations. The original line is sometimes uttered near the

   beginning of an emacs vs. vi holy war on [4452]Usenet, with the (vain)

   hope to quench the discussion before it really takes off. Often

   followed by a standard text describing the many virtues of ed (such as

   the small memory [4453]footprint on a Timex Sinclair, and the

   consistent (because nearly non-existent) user interface).



   Node:egosurf, Next:[4454]eighty-column mind, Previous:[4455]ed,

   Up:[4456]= E =


   egosurf vi.


   To search the net for your name or links to your web pages. Perhaps

   connected to long-established SF-fan slang `egoscan', to search for

   one's name in a fanzine.



   Node:eighty-column mind, Next:[4457]El Camino Bignum,

   Previous:[4458]egosurf, Up:[4459]= E =


   eighty-column mind n.


   [IBM] The sort said to be possessed by persons for whom the transition

   from [4460]punched card to tape was traumatic (nobody has dared tell

   them about disks yet). It is said that these people, including

   (according to an old joke) the founder of IBM, will be buried `face

   down, 9-edge first' (the 9-edge being the bottom of the card). This

   directive is inscribed on IBM's 1402 and 1622 card readers and is

   referenced in a famous bit of doggerel called "The Last Bug", the

   climactic lines of which are as follows:

   He died at the console

   Of hunger and thirst.

   Next day he was buried,

   Face down, 9-edge first.

   The eighty-column mind was thought by most hackers to dominate IBM's

   customer base and its thinking. This only began to change in the

   mid-1990s when IBM began to reinvent itself after the triumph of the

   [4461]killer micro. See [4462]IBM, [4463]fear and loathing, [4464]card

   walloper. A copy of "The Last Bug" lives on the the GNU site at




   Node:El Camino Bignum, Next:[4466]elder days,

   Previous:[4467]eighty-column mind, Up:[4468]= E =


   El Camino Bignum /el' k*-mee'noh big'nuhm/ n.


   The road mundanely called El Camino Real, running along San Francisco

   peninsula. It originally extended all the way down to Mexico City;

   many portions of the old road are still intact. Navigation on the San

   Francisco peninsula is usually done relative to El Camino Real, which

   defines [4469]logical north and south even though it isn't really

   north-south in many places. El Camino Real runs right past Stanford

   University and so is familiar to hackers.


   The Spanish word `real' (which has two syllables: /ray-ahl'/) means

   `royal'; El Camino Real is `the royal road'. In the FORTRAN language,

   a `real' quantity is a number typically precise to seven significant

   digits, and a `double precision' quantity is a larger floating-point

   number, precise to perhaps fourteen significant digits (other

   languages have similar `real' types).


   When a hacker from MIT visited Stanford in 1976, he remarked what a

   long road El Camino Real was. Making a pun on `real', he started

   calling it `El Camino Double Precision' -- but when the hacker was

   told that the road was hundreds of miles long, he renamed it `El

   Camino Bignum', and that name has stuck. (See [4470]bignum.)


   [GLS has since let slip that the unnamed hacker in this story was in

   fact himself --ESR]


   In recent years, the synonym `El Camino Virtual' has been reported as

   an alternate at IBM and Amdahl sites in the Valley. Mathematically

   literate hackers in the Valley have also been heard to refer to some

   major cross-street intersecting El Camino Real as "El Camino

   Imaginary". One popular theory is that the intersection is located

   near Moffett Field - where they keep all those complex planes.



   Node:elder days, Next:[4471]elegant, Previous:[4472]El Camino Bignum,

   Up:[4473]= E =


   elder days n.


   The heroic age of hackerdom (roughly, pre-1980); the era of the

   [4474]PDP-10, [4475]TECO, [4476]ITS, and the ARPANET. This term has

   been rather consciously adopted from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy epic

   "The Lord of the Rings". Compare [4477]Iron Age; see also [4478]elvish

   and [4479]Great Worm.



   Node:elegant, Next:[4480]elephantine, Previous:[4481]elder days,

   Up:[4482]= E =


   elegant adj.


   [common; from mathematical usage] Combining simplicity, power, and a

   certain ineffable grace of design. Higher praise than `clever',

   `winning', or even [4483]cuspy.


   The French aviator, adventurer, and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,

   probably best known for his classic children's book "The Little

   Prince", was also an aircraft designer. He gave us perhaps the best

   definition of engineering elegance when he said "A designer knows he

   has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but

   when there is nothing left to take away."



   Node:elephantine, Next:[4484]elevator controller,

   Previous:[4485]elegant, Up:[4486]= E =


   elephantine adj.


   Used of programs or systems that are both conspicuous [4487]hogs

   (owing perhaps to poor design founded on [4488]brute force and

   ignorance) and exceedingly [4489]hairy in source form. An elephantine

   program may be functional and even friendly, but (as in the old joke

   about being in bed with an elephant) it's tough to have around all the

   same (and, like a pachyderm, difficult to maintain). In extreme cases,

   hackers have been known to make trumpeting sounds or perform

   expressive proboscatory mime at the mention of the offending program.

   Usage: semi-humorous. Compare `has the elephant nature' and the

   somewhat more pejorative [4490]monstrosity. See also

   [4491]second-system effect and [4492]baroque.



   Node:elevator controller, Next:[4493]elite,

   Previous:[4494]elephantine, Up:[4495]= E =


   elevator controller n.


   An archetypal dumb embedded-systems application, like [4496]toaster

   (which superseded it). During one period (1983-84) in the

   deliberations of ANSI X3J11 (the C standardization committee) this was

   the canonical example of a really stupid, memory-limited computation

   environment. "You can't require printf(3) to be part of the default

   runtime library -- what if you're targeting an elevator controller?"

   Elevator controllers became important rhetorical weapons on both sides

   of several [4497]holy wars.



   Node:elite, Next:[4498]ELIZA effect, Previous:[4499]elevator

   controller, Up:[4500]= E =


   elite adj.


   Clueful. Plugged-in. One of the cognoscenti. Also used as a general

   positive adjective. This term is not actually native hacker slang; it

   is used primarily by crackers and [4501]warez d00dz, for which reason

   hackers use it only with heavy irony. The term used to refer to the

   folks allowed in to the "hidden" or "privileged" sections of BBSes in

   the early 1980s (which, typically, contained pirated software).

   Frequently, early boards would only let you post, or even see, a

   certain subset of the sections (or `boards') on a BBS. Those who got

   to the frequently legendary `triple super secret' boards were elite.

   Misspellings of this term in warez d00dz style abound; the forms

   `eleet', and `31337' (among others) have been sighted.


   A true hacker would be more likely to use `wizardly'. Oppose




   Node:ELIZA effect, Next:[4503]elvish, Previous:[4504]elite, Up:[4505]=

   E =


   ELIZA effect /*-li:'z* *-fekt'/ n.


   [AI community] The tendency of humans to attach associations to terms

   from prior experience. For example, there is nothing magic about the

   symbol + that makes it well-suited to indicate addition; it's just

   that people associate it with addition. Using + or `plus' to mean

   addition in a computer language is taking advantage of the ELIZA



   This term comes from the famous ELIZA program by Joseph Weizenbaum,

   which simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist by rephrasing many of the

   patient's statements as questions and posing them to the patient. It

   worked by simple pattern recognition and substitution of key words

   into canned phrases. It was so convincing, however, that there are

   many anecdotes about people becoming very emotionally caught up in

   dealing with ELIZA. All this was due to people's tendency to attach to

   words meanings which the computer never put there. The ELIZA effect is

   a [4506]Good Thing when writing a programming language, but it can

   blind you to serious shortcomings when analyzing an Artificial

   Intelligence system. Compare [4507]ad-hockery; see also

   [4508]AI-complete. Sources for a clone of the original Eliza are

   available at





   Node:elvish, Next:[4510]EMACS, Previous:[4511]ELIZA effect, Up:[4512]=

   E =


   elvish n.


   1. The Tengwar of Feanor, a table of letterforms resembling the

   beautiful Celtic half-uncial hand of the "Book of Kells". Invented and

   described by J. R. R. Tolkien in "The Lord of The Rings" as an

   orthography for his fictional `elvish' languages, this system (which

   is both visually and phonetically [4513]elegant) has long fascinated

   hackers (who tend to be intrigued by artificial languages in general).

   It is traditional for graphics printers, plotters, window systems, and

   the like to support a Feanorian typeface as one of their demo items.

   See also [4514]elder days. 2. By extension, any odd or unreadable

   typeface produced by a graphics device. 3. The typeface mundanely

   called `Böcklin', an art-Noveau display font.



   Node:EMACS, Next:[4515]email, Previous:[4516]elvish, Up:[4517]= E =


   EMACS /ee'maks/ n.


   [from Editing MACroS] The ne plus ultra of hacker editors, a

   programmable text editor with an entire LISP system inside it. It was

   originally written by Richard Stallman in [4518]TECO under [4519]ITS

   at the MIT AI lab; AI Memo 554 described it as "an advanced,

   self-documenting, customizable, extensible real-time display editor".

   It has since been reimplemented any number of times, by various

   hackers, and versions exist that run under most major operating

   systems. Perhaps the most widely used version, also written by

   Stallman and now called "[4520]GNU EMACS" or [4521]GNUMACS, runs

   principally under Unix. (Its close relative XEmacs is the second most

   popular version.) It includes facilities to run compilation

   subprocesses and send and receive mail or news; many hackers spend up

   to 80% of their [4522]tube time inside it. Other variants include

   [4523]GOSMACS, CCA EMACS, UniPress EMACS, Montgomery EMACS, jove,

   epsilon, and MicroEMACS. (Though we use the original all-caps spelling

   here, it is nowadays very commonly `Emacs'.)


   Some EMACS versions running under window managers iconify as an

   overflowing kitchen sink, perhaps to suggest the one feature the

   editor does not (yet) include. Indeed, some hackers find EMACS too

   [4524]heavyweight and [4525]baroque for their taste, and expand the

   name as `Escape Meta Alt Control Shift' to spoof its heavy reliance on

   keystrokes decorated with [4526]bucky bits. Other spoof expansions

   include `Eight Megabytes And Constantly Swapping' (from when that was

   a lot of [4527]core), `Eventually malloc()s All Computer Storage', and

   `EMACS Makes A Computer Slow' (see [4528]recursive acronym). See also




   Node:email, Next:[4530]emoticon, Previous:[4531]EMACS, Up:[4532]= E =


   email /ee'mayl/


   (also written `e-mail' and `E-mail') 1. n. Electronic mail

   automatically passed through computer networks and/or via modems over

   common-carrier lines. Contrast [4533]snail-mail, [4534]paper-net,

   [4535]voice-net. See [4536]network address. 2. vt. To send electronic



   Oddly enough, the word `emailed' is actually listed in the OED; it

   means "embossed (with a raised pattern) or perh. arranged in a net or

   open work". A use from 1480 is given. The word is probably derived

   from French `émaillé' (enameled) and related to Old French

   `emmailleüre' (network). A French correspondent tells us that in

   modern French, `email' is a hard enamel obtained by heating special

   paints in a furnace; an `emailleur' (no final e) is a craftsman who

   makes email (he generally paints some objects (like, say, jewelry) and

   cooks them in a furnace).


   There are numerous spelling variants of this word. In Internet traffic

   up to 1995, `email' predominates, `e-mail' runs a not-too-distant

   second, and `E-mail' and `Email' are a distant third and fourth.



   Node:emoticon, Next:[4537]EMP, Previous:[4538]email, Up:[4539]= E =


   emoticon /ee-moh'ti-kon/ n.


   [common] An ASCII glyph used to indicate an emotional state in email

   or news. Although originally intended mostly as jokes, emoticons (or

   some other explicit humor indication) are virtually required under

   certain circumstances in high-volume text-only communication forums

   such as Usenet; the lack of verbal and visual cues can otherwise cause

   what were intended to be humorous, sarcastic, ironic, or otherwise

   non-100%-serious comments to be badly misinterpreted (not always even

   by [4540]newbies), resulting in arguments and [4541]flame wars.


   Hundreds of emoticons have been proposed, but only a few are in common

   use. These include:



          `smiley face' (for humor, laughter, friendliness, occasionally




          `frowney face' (for sadness, anger, or upset)



          `half-smiley' ([4542]ha ha only serious); also known as

          `semi-smiley' or `winkey face'.



          `wry face'


   (These may become more comprehensible if you tilt your head sideways,

   to the left.)


   The first two listed are by far the most frequently encountered.

   Hyphenless forms of them are common on CompuServe, GEnie, and BIX; see

   also [4543]bixie. On [4544]Usenet, `smiley' is often used as a generic

   term synonymous with [4545]emoticon, as well as specifically for the

   happy-face emoticon.


   It appears that the emoticon was invented by one Scott Fahlman on the

   CMU [4546]bboard systems sometime between early 1981 and mid-1982. He

   later wrote: "I wish I had saved the original post, or at least

   recorded the date for posterity, but I had no idea that I was starting

   something that would soon pollute all the world's communication

   channels." [GLS confirms that he remembers this original posting].


   Note for the [4547]newbie: Overuse of the smiley is a mark of

   loserhood! More than one per paragraph is a fairly sure sign that

   you've gone over the line.



   Node:EMP, Next:[4548]empire, Previous:[4549]emoticon, Up:[4550]= E =


   EMP /E-M-P/


   See [4551]spam.



   Node:empire, Next:[4552]engine, Previous:[4553]EMP, Up:[4554]= E =


   empire n.


   Any of a family of military simulations derived from a game written by

   Peter Langston many years ago. A number of multi-player variants of

   varying degrees of sophistication exist, and one single-player version

   implemented for both Unix and VMS; the latter is even available as

   MS-DOS freeware. All are notoriously addictive. Of various commercial

   derivatives the best known is probably "Empire Deluxe" on PCs and



   Modern empire is a real-time wargame played over the internet by up to

   120 players. Typical games last from 24 hours (blitz) to a couple of

   months (long term). The amount of sleep you can get while playing is a

   function of the rate at which updates occur and the number of

   co-rulers of your country. Empire server software is available for

   unix-like machines, and clients for Unix and other platforms. A

   comprehensive history of the game is available at

   [4555] The Empire resource

   site is at [4556]



   Node:engine, Next:[4557]English, Previous:[4558]empire, Up:[4559]= E =


   engine n.


   1. A piece of hardware that encapsulates some function but can't be

   used without some kind of [4560]front end. Today we have, especially,

   `print engine': the guts of a laser printer. 2. An analogous piece of

   software; notionally, one that does a lot of noisy crunching, such as

   a `database engine'.


   The hacker senses of `engine' are actually close to its original,

   pre-Industrial-Revolution sense of a skill, clever device, or

   instrument (the word is cognate to `ingenuity'). This sense had not

   been completely eclipsed by the modern connotation of

   power-transducing machinery in Charles Babbage's time, which explains

   why he named the stored-program computer that he designed in 1844 the

   `Analytical Engine'.



   Node:English, Next:[4561]enhancement, Previous:[4562]engine,

   Up:[4563]= E =




   1. n. obs. The source code for a program, which may be in any

   language, as opposed to the linkable or executable binary produced

   from it by a compiler. The idea behind the term is that to a real

   hacker, a program written in his favorite programming language is at

   least as readable as English. Usage: mostly by old-time hackers,

   though recognizable in context. Today the prefereed shorthand is

   sinply [4564]source. 2. The official name of the database language

   used by the old Pick Operating System, actually a sort of crufty,

   brain-damaged SQL with delusions of grandeur. The name permitted

   [4565]marketroids to say "Yes, and you can program our computers in

   English!" to ignorant [4566]suits without quite running afoul of the

   truth-in-advertising laws.



   Node:enhancement, Next:[4567]ENQ, Previous:[4568]English, Up:[4569]= E



   enhancement n.


   Common [4570]marketroid-speak for a bug [4571]fix. This abuse of

   language is a popular and time-tested way to turn incompetence into

   increased revenue. A hacker being ironic would instead call the fix a

   [4572]feature -- or perhaps save some effort by declaring the bug

   itself to be a feature.



   Node:ENQ, Next:[4573]EOF, Previous:[4574]enhancement, Up:[4575]= E =


   ENQ /enkw/ or /enk/


   [from the ASCII mnemonic ENQuire for 0000101] An on-line convention

   for querying someone's availability. After opening a [4576]talk mode

   connection to someone apparently in heavy hack mode, one might type

   SYN SYN ENQ? (the SYNs representing notional synchronization bytes),

   and expect a return of [4577]ACK or [4578]NAK depending on whether or

   not the person felt interruptible. Compare [4579]ping, [4580]finger,

   and the usage of FOO? listed under [4581]talk mode.



   Node:EOF, Next:[4582]EOL, Previous:[4583]ENQ, Up:[4584]= E =


   EOF /E-O-F/ n.


   [abbreviation, `End Of File'] 1. [techspeak] The [4585]out-of-band

   value returned by C's sequential character-input functions (and their

   equivalents in other environments) when end of file has been reached.

   This value is usually -1 under C libraries postdating V6 Unix, but was

   originally 0. DOS hackers think EOF is ^Z, and a few Amiga hackers

   think it's ^\. 2. [Unix] The keyboard character (usually control-D,

   the ASCII EOT (End Of Transmission) character) that is mapped by the

   terminal driver into an end-of-file condition. 3. Used by extension in

   non-computer contexts when a human is doing something that can be

   modeled as a sequential read and can't go further. "Yeah, I looked for

   a list of 360 mnemonics to post as a joke, but I hit EOF pretty fast;

   all the library had was a [4586]JCL manual." See also [4587]EOL.



   Node:EOL, Next:[4588]EOU, Previous:[4589]EOF, Up:[4590]= E =


   EOL /E-O-L/ n.


   [End Of Line] Syn. for [4591]newline, derived perhaps from the

   original CDC6600 Pascal. Now rare, but widely recognized and

   occasionally used for brevity. Used in the example entry under

   [4592]BNF. See also [4593]EOF.



   Node:EOU, Next:[4594]epoch, Previous:[4595]EOL, Up:[4596]= E =


   EOU /E-O-U/ n.


   The mnemonic of a mythical ASCII control character (End Of User) that

   would make an ASR-33 Teletype explode on receipt. This construction

   parodies the numerous obscure delimiter and control characters left in

   ASCII from the days when it was associated more with wire-service

   teletypes than computers (e.g., FS, GS, RS, US, EM, SUB, ETX, and esp.

   EOT). It is worth remembering that ASR-33s were big, noisy mechanical

   beasts with a lot of clattering parts; the notion that one might

   explode was nowhere near as ridiculous as it might seem to someone

   sitting in front of a [4597]tube or flatscreen today.



   Node:epoch, Next:[4598]epsilon, Previous:[4599]EOU, Up:[4600]= E =


   epoch n.


   [Unix: prob. from astronomical timekeeping] The time and date

   corresponding to 0 in an operating system's clock and timestamp

   values. Under most Unix versions the epoch is 00:00:00 GMT, January 1,

   1970; under VMS, it's 00:00:00 of November 17, 1858 (base date of the

   U.S. Naval Observatory's ephemerides); on a Macintosh, it's the

   midnight beginning January 1 1904. System time is measured in seconds

   or [4601]ticks past the epoch. Weird problems may ensue when the clock

   wraps around (see [4602]wrap around), which is not necessarily a rare

   event; on systems counting 10 ticks per second, a signed 32-bit count

   of ticks is good only for 6.8 years. The 1-tick-per-second clock of

   Unix is good only until January 18, 2038, assuming at least some

   software continues to consider it signed and that word lengths don't

   increase by then. See also [4603]wall time. Microsoft Windows, on the

   other hand, has an epoch problem every 49.7 days - but this is seldom

   noticed as Windows is almost incapable of staying up continuously for

   that long.



   Node:epsilon, Next:[4604]epsilon squared, Previous:[4605]epoch,

   Up:[4606]= E =




   [see [4607]delta] 1. n. A small quantity of anything. "The cost is

   epsilon." 2. adj. Very small, negligible; less than [4608]marginal.

   "We can get this feature for epsilon cost." 3. `within epsilon of':

   close enough to be indistinguishable for all practical purposes, even

   closer than being `within delta of'. "That's not what I asked for, but

   it's within epsilon of what I wanted." Alternatively, it may mean not

   close enough, but very little is required to get it there: "My program

   is within epsilon of working."



   Node:epsilon squared, Next:[4609]era the, Previous:[4610]epsilon,

   Up:[4611]= E =


   epsilon squared n.


   A quantity even smaller than [4612]epsilon, as small in comparison to

   epsilon as epsilon is to something normal; completely negligible. If

   you buy a supercomputer for a million dollars, the cost of the

   thousand-dollar terminal to go with it is [4613]epsilon, and the cost

   of the ten-dollar cable to connect them is epsilon squared. Compare

   [4614]lost in the underflow, [4615]lost in the noise.



   Node:era the, Next:[4616]Eric Conspiracy, Previous:[4617]epsilon

   squared, Up:[4618]= E =


   era n.


   Syn. [4619]epoch. Webster's Unabridged makes these words almost

   synonymous, but `era' more often connotes a span of time rather than a

   point in time, whereas the reverse is true for [4620]epoch. The

   [4621]epoch usage is recommended.



   Node:Eric Conspiracy, Next:[4622]Eris, Previous:[4623]era the,

   Up:[4624]= E =


   Eric Conspiracy n.


   A shadowy group of mustachioed hackers named Eric first pinpointed as

   a sinister conspiracy by an infamous talk.bizarre posting ca. 1987;

   this was doubtless influenced by the numerous `Eric' jokes in the

   Monty Python oeuvre. There do indeed seem to be considerably more

   mustachioed Erics in hackerdom than the frequency of these three

   traits can account for unless they are correlated in some arcane way.

   Well-known examples include Eric Allman (he of the `Allman style'

   described under [4625]indent style) and Erik Fair (co-author of NNTP);

   your editor has heard from more than sixty others by email, and the

   organization line `Eric Conspiracy Secret Laboratories' now emanates

   regularly from more than one site. See the Eric Conspiracy Web Page at

   [4626] for full details.



   Node:Eris, Next:[4627]erotics, Previous:[4628]Eric Conspiracy,

   Up:[4629]= E =


   Eris /e'ris/ n.


   The Greek goddess of Chaos, Discord, Confusion, and Things You Know

   Not Of; her name was latinized to Discordia and she was worshiped by

   that name in Rome. Not a very friendly deity in the Classical

   original, she was reinvented as a more benign personification of

   creative anarchy starting in 1959 by the adherents of

   [4630]Discordianism and has since been a semi-serious subject of

   veneration in several `fringe' cultures, including hackerdom. See

   [4631]Discordianism, [4632]Church of the SubGenius.



   Node:erotics, Next:[4633]error 33, Previous:[4634]Eris, Up:[4635]= E =


   erotics /ee-ro'tiks/ n.


   [Helsinki University of Technology, Finland] n. English-language

   university slang for electronics. Often used by hackers in Helsinki,

   maybe because good electronics excites them and makes them warm.



   Node:error 33, Next:[4636]eurodemo, Previous:[4637]erotics, Up:[4638]=

   E =


   error 33 [XEROX PARC] n.


   1. Predicating one research effort upon the success of another. 2.

   Allowing your own research effort to be placed on the critical path of

   some other project (be it a research effort or not).



   Node:eurodemo, Next:[4639]evil, Previous:[4640]error 33, Up:[4641]= E



   eurodemo /yoor'o-dem`-o/


   a [4642]demo, sense 4



   Node:evil, Next:[4643]evil and rude, Previous:[4644]eurodemo,

   Up:[4645]= E =


   evil adj.


   As used by hackers, implies that some system, program, person, or

   institution is sufficiently maldesigned as to be not worth the bother

   of dealing with. Unlike the adjectives in the

   [4646]cretinous/[4647]losing/[4648]brain-damaged series, `evil' does

   not imply incompetence or bad design, but rather a set of goals or

   design criteria fatally incompatible with the speaker's. This usage is

   more an esthetic and engineering judgment than a moral one in the

   mainstream sense. "We thought about adding a [4649]Blue Glue interface

   but decided it was too evil to deal with." "[4650]TECO is neat, but it

   can be pretty evil if you're prone to typos." Often pronounced with

   the first syllable lengthened, as /eeee'vil/. Compare [4651]evil and




   Node:evil and rude, Next:[4652]Evil Empire, Previous:[4653]evil,

   Up:[4654]= E =


   evil and rude adj.


   Both [4655]evil and [4656]rude, but with the additional connotation

   that the rudeness was due to malice rather than incompetence. Thus,

   for example: Microsoft's Windows NT is evil because it's a competent

   implementation of a bad design; it's rude because it's gratuitously

   incompatible with Unix in places where compatibility would have been

   as easy and effective to do; but it's evil and rude because the

   incompatibilities are apparently there not to fix design bugs in Unix

   but rather to lock hapless customers and developers into the Microsoft

   way. Hackish evil and rude is close to the mainstream sense of `evil'.



   Node:Evil Empire, Next:[4657]exa-, Previous:[4658]evil and rude,

   Up:[4659]= E =


   Evil Empire n.


   [from Ronald Reagan's famous characterization of the communist Soviet

   Union] Formerly [4660]IBM, now [4661]Microsoft. Functionally, the

   company most hackers love to hate at any given time. Hackers like to

   see themselves as romantic rebels against the Evil Empire, and

   frequently adopt this role to the point of ascribing rather more power

   and malice to the Empire than it actually has. See also [4662]Borg and

   search for [4663]Evil Empire pages on the Web.



   Node:exa-, Next:[4664]examining the entrails, Previous:[4665]Evil

   Empire, Up:[4666]= E =


   exa- /ek's*/ pref.


   [SI] See [4667]quantifiers.



   Node:examining the entrails, Next:[4668]EXCH, Previous:[4669]exa-,

   Up:[4670]= E =


   examining the entrails n.


   The process of [4671]grovelling through a [4672]core dump or hex image

   in an attempt to discover the bug that brought a program or system

   down. The reference is to divination from the entrails of a sacrified

   animal. Compare [4673]runes, [4674]incantation, [4675]black art,

   [4676]desk check.



   Node:EXCH, Next:[4677]excl, Previous:[4678]examining the entrails,

   Up:[4679]= E =


   EXCH /eks'ch*/ or /eksch/ vt.


   To exchange two things, each for the other; to swap places. If you

   point to two people sitting down and say "Exch!", you are asking them

   to trade places. EXCH, meaning EXCHange, was originally the name of a

   PDP-10 instruction that exchanged the contents of a register and a

   memory location. Many newer hackers are probably thinking instead of

   the [4680]PostScript exchange operator (which is usually written in




   Node:excl, Next:[4681]EXE, Previous:[4682]EXCH, Up:[4683]= E =


   excl /eks'kl/ n.


   Abbreviation for `exclamation point'. See [4684]bang, [4685]shriek,




   Node:EXE, Next:[4687]exec, Previous:[4688]excl, Up:[4689]= E =


   EXE /eks'ee/ or /eek'see/ or /E-X-E/ n.


   An executable binary file. Some operating systems (notably MS-DOS,

   VMS, and TWENEX) use the extension .EXE to mark such files. This usage

   is also occasionally found among Unix programmers even though Unix

   executables don't have any required suffix.



   Node:exec, Next:[4690]exercise left as an, Previous:[4691]EXE,

   Up:[4692]= E =


   exec /eg-zek'/ or /eks'ek/ vt., n.


   1. [Unix: from `execute'] Synonym for [4693]chain, derives from the

   exec(2) call. 2. [from `executive'] obs. The command interpreter for

   an [4694]OS (see [4695]shell); term esp. used around mainframes, and

   prob. derived from UNIVAC's archaic EXEC 2 and EXEC 8 operating

   systems. 3. At IBM and VM/CMS shops, the equivalent of a shell command

   file (among VM/CMS users).


   The mainstream `exec' as an abbreviation for (human) executive is not

   used. To a hacker, an `exec' is a always a program, never a person.



   Node:exercise left as an, Next:[4696]Exon, Previous:[4697]exec,

   Up:[4698]= E =


   exercise, left as an adj.


   [from technical books] Used to complete a proof when one doesn't mind

   a [4699]handwave, or to avoid one entirely. The complete phrase is:

   "The proof [or `the rest'] is left as an exercise for the reader."

   This comment has occasionally been attached to unsolved research

   problems by authors possessed of either an evil sense of humor or a

   vast faith in the capabilities of their audiences.



   Node:Exon, Next:[4700]Exploder, Previous:[4701]exercise left as an,

   Up:[4702]= E =


   Exon /eks'on/ excl.


   A generic obscenity that quickly entered wide use on the Internet and

   Usenet after [4703]Black Thursday. From the last name of Senator James

   Exon (Democrat-Nebraska), primary author of the [4704]CDA.



   Node:Exploder, Next:[4705]exploit, Previous:[4706]Exon, Up:[4707]= E =


   Exploder n.


   Used within Microsoft to refer to the Windows Explorer, the interface

   component of Windows 95 and WinNT 4. Our spies report that most of the

   heavy guns at MS came from a Unix background and use command line

   utilities; even they are scornful of the over-gingerbreaded [4708]WIMP

   environments that they have been called upon to create.



   Node:exploit, Next:[4709]external memory, Previous:[4710]Exploder,

   Up:[4711]= E =


   exploit n.


   [originally cracker slang] 1. A vulnerability in software that can be

   used for breaking security or otherwise attacking an Internet host

   over the network. The [4712]Ping O' Death is a famous exploit. 2. More

   grammatically, a program that exploits an exploit in sense 1,



   Node:external memory, Next:[4713]eye candy, Previous:[4714]exploit,

   Up:[4715]= E =


   external memory n.


   A memo pad, palmtop computer, or written notes. "Hold on while I write

   that to external memory". The analogy is with store or DRAM versus

   nonvolatile disk storage on computers.



   Node:eye candy, Next:[4716]eyeball search, Previous:[4717]external

   memory, Up:[4718]= E =


   eye candy /i:' kand`ee/ n.


   [from mainstream slang "ear candy"] A display of some sort that's

   presented to [4719]lusers to keep them distracted while the program

   performs necessary background tasks. "Give 'em some eye candy while

   the back-end [4720]slurps that [4721]BLOB into core." Reported as

   mainstream usage among players of graphics-heavy computer games. We're

   also told this term is mainstream slang for soft pornography, but that

   sense does not appear to be live among hackers.



   Node:eyeball search, Next:[4722]face time, Previous:[4723]eye candy,

   Up:[4724]= E =


   eyeball search n.,v.


   To look for something in a mass of code or data with one's own native

   optical sensors, as opposed to using some sort of pattern matching

   software like [4725]grep or any other automated search tool. Also

   called a [4726]vgrep; compare [4727]vdiff, [4728]desk check.



   Node:= F =, Next:[4729]= G =, Previous:[4730]= E =, Up:[4731]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= F =

     * [4732]face time:

     * [4733]factor:

     * [4734]fairings:

     * [4735]fall over:

     * [4736]fall through:

     * [4737]fan:

     * [4738]fandango on core:

     * [4739]FAQ:

     * [4740]FAQ list:

     * [4741]FAQL:

     * [4742]faradize:

     * [4743]farkled:

     * [4744]farming:

     * [4745]fascist:

     * [4746]fat electrons:

     * [4747]fat-finger:

     * [4748]faulty:

     * [4749]fd leak:

     * [4750]fear and loathing:

     * [4751]feature:

     * [4752]feature creature:

     * [4753]feature creep:

     * [4754]feature key:

     * [4755]feature shock:

     * [4756]featurectomy:

     * [4757]feep:

     * [4758]feeper:

     * [4759]feeping creature:

     * [4760]feeping creaturism:

     * [4761]feetch feetch:

     * [4762]fence:

     * [4763]fencepost error:

     * [4764]fiber-seeking backhoe:

     * [4765]FidoNet:

     * [4766]field circus:

     * [4767]field servoid:

     * [4768]Fight-o-net:

     * [4769]File Attach:

     * [4770]File Request:

     * [4771]file signature:

     * [4772]filk:

     * [4773]film at 11:

     * [4774]filter:

     * [4775]Finagle's Law:

     * [4776]fine:

     * [4777]finger:

     * [4778]finger trouble:

     * [4779]finger-pointing syndrome:

     * [4780]finn:

     * [4781]firebottle:

     * [4782]firefighting:

     * [4783]firehose syndrome:

     * [4784]firewall code:

     * [4785]firewall machine:

     * [4786]fireworks mode:

     * [4787]firmware:

     * [4788]firmy:

     * [4789]fish:

     * [4790]FISH queue:

     * [4791]FITNR:

     * [4792]fix:

     * [4793]FIXME:

     * [4794]flag:

     * [4795]flag day:

     * [4796]flaky:

     * [4797]flamage:

     * [4798]flame:

     * [4799]flame bait:

     * [4800]flame on:

     * [4801]flame war:

     * [4802]flamer:

     * [4803]flap:

     * [4804]flarp:

     * [4805]flash crowd:

     * [4806]flat:

     * [4807]flat-ASCII:

     * [4808]flat-file:

     * [4809]flatten:

     * [4810]flavor:

     * [4811]flavorful:

     * [4812]flippy:

     * [4813]flood:

     * [4814]flowchart:

     * [4815]flower key:

     * [4816]flush:

     * [4817]flypage:

     * [4818]Flyspeck 3:

     * [4819]flytrap:

     * [4820]FM:

     * [4821]fnord:

     * [4822]FOAF:

     * [4823]FOD:

     * [4824]fold case:

     * [4825]followup:

     * [4826]fontology:

     * [4827]foo:

     * [4828]foobar:

     * [4829]fool:

     * [4830]fool file:

     * [4831]Foonly:

     * [4832]footprint:

     * [4833]for free:

     * [4834]for the rest of us:

     * [4835]for values of:

     * [4836]fora:

     * [4837]foreground:

     * [4838]fork:

     * [4839]fork bomb:

     * [4840]forked:

     * [4841]Fortrash:

     * [4842]fortune cookie:

     * [4843]forum:

     * [4844]fossil:

     * [4845]four-color glossies:

     * [4846]frag:

     * [4847]fragile:

     * [4848]fred:

     * [4849]Fred Foobar:

     * [4850]frednet:

     * [4851]free software:

     * [4852]freeware:

     * [4853]freeze:

     * [4854]fried:

     * [4855]frink:

     * [4856]friode:

     * [4857]fritterware:

     * [4858]frob:

     * [4859]frobnicate:

     * [4860]frobnitz:

     * [4861]frog:

     * [4862]frogging:

     * [4863]front end:

     * [4864]frotz:

     * [4865]frotzed:

     * [4866]frowney:

     * [4867]FRS:

     * [4868]fry:

     * [4869]fscking:

     * [4870]FSF:

     * [4871]FTP:

     * [4872]-fu:

     * [4873]FUBAR:

     * [4874]fuck me harder:

     * [4875]FUD:

     * [4876]FUD wars:

     * [4877]fudge:

     * [4878]fudge factor:

     * [4879]fuel up:

     * [4880]Full Monty:

     * [4881]fum:

     * [4882]functino:

     * [4883]funky:

     * [4884]funny money:

     * [4885]furrfu:

     * [4886]fuzzball:



   Node:face time, Next:[4887]factor, Previous:[4888]eyeball search,

   Up:[4889]= F =


   face time n.


   [common] Time spent interacting with somebody face-to-face (as opposed

   to via electronic links). "Oh, yeah, I spent some face time with him

   at the last Usenix."



   Node:factor, Next:[4890]fairings, Previous:[4891]face time, Up:[4892]=

   F =


   factor n.


   See [4893]coefficient of X.



   Node:fairings, Next:[4894]fall over, Previous:[4895]factor, Up:[4896]=

   F =


   fairings n. /fer'ingz/


   [FreeBSD; orig. a typo for `fairness'] A term thrown out in discussion

   whenever a completely and transparently nonsensical argument in one's

   favor(?) seems called for, e,g. at the end of a really long thread for

   which the outcome is no longer even cared about since everyone is now

   so sick of it; or in rebuttal to another nonsensical argument ("Change

   the loader to look for / What about fairings?")



   Node:fall over, Next:[4897]fall through, Previous:[4898]fairings,

   Up:[4899]= F =


   fall over vi.


   [IBM] Yet another synonym for [4900]crash or [4901]lose. `Fall over

   hard' equates to [4902]crash and burn.



   Node:fall through, Next:[4903]fan, Previous:[4904]fall over,

   Up:[4905]= F =


   fall through v.


   (n. `fallthrough', var. `fall-through') 1. To exit a loop by

   exhaustion, i.e., by having fulfilled its exit condition rather than

   via a break or exception condition that exits from the middle of it.

   This usage appears to be really old, dating from the 1940s and 1950s.

   2. To fail a test that would have passed control to a subroutine or

   some other distant portion of code. 3. In C, `fall-through' occurs

   when the flow of execution in a switch statement reaches a case label

   other than by jumping there from the switch header, passing a point

   where one would normally expect to find a break. A trivial example:

switch (color)


case GREEN:



case PINK:



case RED:







   The variant spelling /* FALL THRU */ is also common.


   The effect of the above code is to do_green() when color is GREEN,

   do_red() when color is RED, do_blue() on any other color other than

   PINK, and (and this is the important part) do_pink() and then do_red()

   when color is PINK. Fall-through is [4906]considered harmful by some,

   though there are contexts (such as the coding of state machines) in

   which it is natural; it is generally considered good practice to

   include a comment highlighting the fall-through where one would

   normally expect a break. See also [4907]Duff's device.



   Node:fan, Next:[4908]fandango on core, Previous:[4909]fall through,

   Up:[4910]= F =


   fan n.


   Without qualification, indicates a fan of science fiction, especially

   one who goes to [4911]cons and tends to hang out with other fans. Many

   hackers are fans, so this term has been imported from fannish slang;

   however, unlike much fannish slang it is recognized by most

   non-fannish hackers. Among SF fans the plural is correctly `fen', but

   this usage is not automatic to hackers. "Laura reads the stuff

   occasionally but isn't really a fan."



   Node:fandango on core, Next:[4912]FAQ, Previous:[4913]fan, Up:[4914]=

   F =


   fandango on core n.


   [Unix/C hackers, from the Iberian dance] In C, a wild pointer that

   runs out of bounds, causing a [4915]core dump, or corrupts the

   malloc(3) [4916]arena in such a way as to cause mysterious failures

   later on, is sometimes said to have `done a fandango on core'. On

   low-end personal machines without an MMU (or Windows boxes, which have

   an MMU but use it incompetently), this can corrupt the OS itself,

   causing massive lossage. Other frenetic dances such as the cha-cha or

   the watusi, may be substituted. See [4917]aliasing bug,

   [4918]precedence lossage, [4919]smash the stack, [4920]memory leak,

   [4921]memory smash, [4922]overrun screw, [4923]core.



   Node:FAQ, Next:[4924]FAQ list, Previous:[4925]fandango on core,

   Up:[4926]= F =


   FAQ /F-A-Q/ or /fak/ n.


   [Usenet] 1. A Frequently Asked Question. 2. A compendium of

   accumulated lore, posted periodically to high-volume newsgroups in an

   attempt to forestall such questions. Some people prefer the term `FAQ

   list' or `FAQL' /fa'kl/, reserving `FAQ' for sense 1.


   This lexicon itself serves as a good example of a collection of one

   kind of lore, although it is far too big for a regular FAQ posting.

   Examples: "What is the proper type of NULL?" and "What's that funny

   name for the # character?" are both Frequently Asked Questions.

   Several FAQs refer readers to this file.



   Node:FAQ list, Next:[4927]FAQL, Previous:[4928]FAQ, Up:[4929]= F =


   FAQ list /F-A-Q list/ or /fak list/ n.


   [common; Usenet] Syn [4930]FAQ, sense 2.



   Node:FAQL, Next:[4931]faradize, Previous:[4932]FAQ list, Up:[4933]= F



   FAQL /fa'kl/ n.


   Syn. [4934]FAQ list.



   Node:faradize, Next:[4935]farkled, Previous:[4936]FAQL, Up:[4937]= F =


   faradize /far'*-di:z/ v.


   [US Geological Survey] To start any hyper-addictive process or trend,

   or to continue adding current to such a trend. Telling one user about

   a new octo-tetris game you compiled would be a faradizing act -- in

   two weeks you might find your entire department playing the faradic




   Node:farkled, Next:[4938]farming, Previous:[4939]faradize, Up:[4940]=

   F =


   farkled /far'kld/ adj.


   [DeVry Institute of Technology, Atlanta] Syn. [4941]hosed. Poss. owes

   something to Yiddish `farblondjet' and/or the `Farkle Family' skits on

   "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", a popular comedy show of the late




   Node:farming, Next:[4942]fascist, Previous:[4943]farkled, Up:[4944]= F



   farming n.


   [Adelaide University, Australia] What the heads of a disk drive are

   said to do when they plow little furrows in the magnetic media.

   Associated with a [4945]crash. Typically used as follows: "Oh no, the

   machine has just crashed; I hope the hard drive hasn't gone

   [4946]farming again." No longer common; modern drives automatically

   park their heads in a safe zone on power-down, so it takes a real

   mechanical problem to induce this.



   Node:fascist, Next:[4947]fat electrons, Previous:[4948]farming,

   Up:[4949]= F =


   fascist adj.


   1. [common] Said of a computer system with excessive or annoying

   security barriers, usage limits, or access policies. The implication

   is that said policies are preventing hackers from getting interesting

   work done. The variant `fascistic' seems to have been preferred at

   MIT, poss. by analogy with `touristic' (see [4950]tourist or under the

   influence of German/Yiddish `faschistisch'). 2. In the design of

   languages and other software tools, `the fascist alternative' is the

   most restrictive and structured way of capturing a particular

   function; the implication is that this may be desirable in order to

   simplify the implementation or provide tighter error checking. Compare

   [4951]bondage-and-discipline language, although that term is global

   rather than local.



   Node:fat electrons, Next:[4952]fat-finger, Previous:[4953]fascist,

   Up:[4954]= F =


   fat electrons n.


   Old-time hacker David Cargill's theory on the causation of computer

   glitches. Your typical electric utility draws its line current out of

   the big generators with a pair of coil taps located near the top of

   the dynamo. When the normal tap brushes get dirty, they take them off

   line to clean them up, and use special auxiliary taps on the bottom of

   the coil. Now, this is a problem, because when they do that they get

   not ordinary or `thin' electrons, but the fat'n'sloppy electrons that

   are heavier and so settle to the bottom of the generator. These flow

   down ordinary wires just fine, but when they have to turn a sharp

   corner (as in an integrated-circuit via), they're apt to get stuck.

   This is what causes computer glitches. [Fascinating. Obviously, fat

   electrons must gain mass by [4955]bogon absorption --ESR] Compare

   [4956]bogon, [4957]magic smoke.



   Node:fat-finger, Next:[4958]faulty, Previous:[4959]fat electrons,

   Up:[4960]= F =


   fat-finger vt.


   1. To introduce a typo while editing in such a way that the resulting

   manglification of a configuration file does something useless,

   damaging, or wildly unexpected. "NSI fat-fingered their DNS zone file

   and took half the net down again." 2. More generally, any typo that

   produces dramatically bad results.



   Node:faulty, Next:[4961]fd leak, Previous:[4962]fat-finger, Up:[4963]=

   F =


   faulty adj.


   Non-functional; buggy. Same denotation as [4964]bletcherous,

   [4965]losing, q.v., but the connotation is much milder.



   Node:fd leak, Next:[4966]fear and loathing, Previous:[4967]faulty,

   Up:[4968]= F =


   fd leak /F-D leek/ n.


   A kind of programming bug analogous to a [4969]core leak, in which a

   program fails to close file descriptors (`fd's) after file operations

   are completed, and thus eventually runs out of them. See [4970]leak.



   Node:fear and loathing, Next:[4971]feature, Previous:[4972]fd leak,

   Up:[4973]= F =


   fear and loathing n.


   [from Hunter S. Thompson] A state inspired by the prospect of dealing

   with certain real-world systems and standards that are totally

   [4974]brain-damaged but ubiquitous -- Intel 8086s, or [4975]COBOL, or

   [4976]EBCDIC, or any [4977]IBM machine bigger than a workstation.

   "Ack! They want PCs to be able to talk to the AI machine. Fear and

   loathing time!"



   Node:feature, Next:[4978]feature creature, Previous:[4979]fear and

   loathing, Up:[4980]= F =


   feature n.


   1. [common] A good property or behavior (as of a program). Whether it

   was intended or not is immaterial. 2. [common] An intended property or

   behavior (as of a program). Whether it is good or not is immaterial

   (but if bad, it is also a [4981]misfeature). 3. A surprising property

   or behavior; in particular, one that is purposely inconsistent because

   it works better that way -- such an inconsistency is therefore a

   [4982]feature and not a [4983]bug. This kind of feature is sometimes

   called a [4984]miswart; see that entry for a classic example. 4. A

   property or behavior that is gratuitous or unnecessary, though perhaps

   also impressive or cute. For example, one feature of Common LISP's

   format function is the ability to print numbers in two different

   Roman-numeral formats (see [4985]bells whistles and gongs). 5. A

   property or behavior that was put in to help someone else but that

   happens to be in your way. 6. [common] A bug that has been documented.

   To call something a feature sometimes means the author of the program

   did not consider the particular case, and that the program responded

   in a way that was unexpected but not strictly incorrect. A standard

   joke is that a bug can be turned into a [4986]feature simply by

   documenting it (then theoretically no one can complain about it

   because it's in the manual), or even by simply declaring it to be

   good. "That's not a bug, that's a feature!" is a common catchphrase.

   See also [4987]feetch feetch, [4988]creeping featurism, [4989]wart,

   [4990]green lightning.


   The relationship among bugs, features, misfeatures, warts, and

   miswarts might be clarified by the following hypothetical exchange

   between two hackers on an airliner:


   A: "This seat doesn't recline."


   B: "That's not a bug, that's a feature. There is an emergency exit

   door built around the window behind you, and the route has to be kept



   A: "Oh. Then it's a misfeature; they should have increased the spacing

   between rows here."


   B: "Yes. But if they'd increased spacing in only one section it would

   have been a wart -- they would've had to make nonstandard-length

   ceiling panels to fit over the displaced seats."


   A: "A miswart, actually. If they increased spacing throughout they'd

   lose several rows and a chunk out of the profit margin. So unequal

   spacing would actually be the Right Thing."


   B: "Indeed."


   `Undocumented feature' is a common, allegedly humorous euphemism for a

   [4991]bug. There's a related joke that is sometimes referred to as the

   "one-question geek test". You say to someone "I saw a Volkswagen

   Beetle today with a vanity license plate that read FEATURE". If he/she

   laughs, he/she is a geek (see [4992]computer geek, sense 2).



   Node:feature creature, Next:[4993]feature creep,

   Previous:[4994]feature, Up:[4995]= F =


   feature creature n.


   [poss. fr. slang `creature feature' for a horror movie] 1. One who

   loves to add features to designs or programs, perhaps at the expense

   of coherence, concision, or [4996]taste. 2. Alternately, a mythical

   being that induces otherwise rational programmers to perpetrate such

   crocks. See also [4997]feeping creaturism, [4998]creeping featurism.



   Node:feature creep, Next:[4999]feature key, Previous:[5000]feature

   creature, Up:[5001]= F =


   feature creep n.


   [common] The result of [5002]creeping featurism, as in "Emacs has a

   bad case of feature creep".



   Node:feature key, Next:[5003]feature shock, Previous:[5004]feature

   creep, Up:[5005]= F =


   feature key n.


   [common] The Macintosh key with the cloverleaf graphic on its keytop;

   sometimes referred to as `flower', `pretzel', `clover', `propeller',

   `beanie' (an apparent reference to the major feature of a propeller

   beanie), [5006]splat, `open-apple' or (officially, in Mac

   documentation) the `command key'. In French, the term `papillon'

   (butterfly) has been reported. The proliferation of terms for this

   creature may illustrate one subtle peril of iconic interfaces.


   Many people have been mystified by the cloverleaf-like symbol that

   appears on the feature key. Its oldest name is `cross of St. Hannes',

   but it occurs in pre-Christian Viking art as a decorative motif.

   Throughout Scandinavia today the road agencies use it to mark sites of

   historical interest. Apple picked up the symbol from an early Mac

   developer who happened to be Swedish. Apple documentation gives the

   translation "interesting feature"!


   There is some dispute as to the proper (Swedish) name of this symbol.

   It technically stands for the word `sevärdhet' (thing worth seeing);

   many of these are old churches. Some Swedes report as an idiom for the

   sign the word `kyrka', cognate to English `church' and pronounced

   (roughly) /chur'ka/ in modern Swedish. Others say this is nonsense.

   Other idioms reported for the sign are `runa' (rune) or `runsten'

   /roon'stn/ (runestone), derived from the fact that many of the

   interesting features are Viking rune-stones. The term `fornminne'

   /foorn'min'*/ (relic of antiquity, ancient monument) is also reported,

   especially among those who think that the Mac itself is a relic of




   Node:feature shock, Next:[5007]featurectomy, Previous:[5008]feature

   key, Up:[5009]= F =


   feature shock n.


   [from Alvin Toffler's book title "Future Shock"] A user's (or

   programmer's!) confusion when confronted with a package that has too

   many features and poor introductory material.



   Node:featurectomy, Next:[5010]feep, Previous:[5011]feature shock,

   Up:[5012]= F =


   featurectomy /fee`ch*r-ek't*-mee/ n.


   The act of removing a feature from a program. Featurectomies come in

   two flavors, the `righteous' and the `reluctant'. Righteous

   featurectomies are performed because the remover believes the program

   would be more elegant without the feature, or there is already an

   equivalent and better way to achieve the same end. (Doing so is not

   quite the same thing as removing a [5013]misfeature.) Reluctant

   featurectomies are performed to satisfy some external constraint such

   as code size or execution speed.



   Node:feep, Next:[5014]feeper, Previous:[5015]featurectomy, Up:[5016]=

   F =


   feep /feep/


   1. n. The soft electronic `bell' sound of a display terminal (except

   for a VT-52); a beep (in fact, the microcomputer world seems to prefer

   [5017]beep). 2. vi. To cause the display to make a feep sound. ASR-33s

   (the original TTYs) do not feep; they have mechanical bells that ring.

   Alternate forms: [5018]beep, `bleep', or just about anything suitably

   onomatopoeic. (Jeff MacNelly, in his comic strip "Shoe", uses the word

   `eep' for sounds made by computer terminals and video games; this is

   perhaps the closest written approximation yet.) The term `breedle' was

   sometimes heard at SAIL, where the terminal bleepers are not

   particularly soft (they sound more like the musical equivalent of a

   raspberry or Bronx cheer; for a close approximation, imagine the sound

   of a Star Trek communicator's beep lasting for five seconds). The

   `feeper' on a VT-52 has been compared to the sound of a '52 Chevy

   stripping its gears. See also [5019]ding.



   Node:feeper, Next:[5020]feeping creature, Previous:[5021]feep,

   Up:[5022]= F =


   feeper /fee'pr/ n.


   The device in a terminal or workstation (usually a loudspeaker of some

   kind) that makes the [5023]feep sound.



   Node:feeping creature, Next:[5024]feeping creaturism,

   Previous:[5025]feeper, Up:[5026]= F =


   feeping creature n.


   [from [5027]feeping creaturism] An unnecessary feature; a bit of

   [5028]chrome that, in the speaker's judgment, is the camel's nose for

   a whole horde of new features.



   Node:feeping creaturism, Next:[5029]feetch feetch,

   Previous:[5030]feeping creature, Up:[5031]= F =


   feeping creaturism /fee'ping kree`ch*r-izm/ n.


   A deliberate spoonerism for [5032]creeping featurism, meant to imply

   that the system or program in question has become a misshapen creature

   of hacks. This term isn't really well defined, but it sounds so neat

   that most hackers have said or heard it. It is probably reinforced by

   an image of terminals prowling about in the dark making their

   customary noises.



   Node:feetch feetch, Next:[5033]fence, Previous:[5034]feeping

   creaturism, Up:[5035]= F =


   feetch feetch /feech feech/ interj.


   If someone tells you about some new improvement to a program, you

   might respond: "Feetch, feetch!" The meaning of this depends

   critically on vocal inflection. With enthusiasm, it means something

   like "Boy, that's great! What a great hack!" Grudgingly or with

   obvious doubt, it means "I don't know; it sounds like just one more

   unnecessary and complicated thing". With a tone of resignation, it

   means, "Well, I'd rather keep it simple, but I suppose it has to be




   Node:fence, Next:[5036]fencepost error, Previous:[5037]feetch feetch,

   Up:[5038]= F =


   fence n. 1.


   A sequence of one or more distinguished ([5039]out-of-band) characters

   (or other data items), used to delimit a piece of data intended to be

   treated as a unit (the computer-science literature calls this a

   `sentinel'). The NUL (ASCII 0000000) character that terminates strings

   in C is a fence. Hex FF is also (though slightly less frequently) used

   this way. See [5040]zigamorph. 2. An extra data value inserted in an

   array or other data structure in order to allow some normal test on

   the array's contents also to function as a termination test. For

   example, a highly optimized routine for finding a value in an array

   might artificially place a copy of the value to be searched for after

   the last slot of the array, thus allowing the main search loop to

   search for the value without having to check at each pass whether the

   end of the array had been reached. 3. [among users of optimizing

   compilers] Any technique, usually exploiting knowledge about the

   compiler, that blocks certain optimizations. Used when explicit

   mechanisms are not available or are overkill. Typically a hack: "I

   call a dummy procedure there to force a flush of the optimizer's

   register-coloring info" can be expressed by the shorter "That's a

   fence procedure".



   Node:fencepost error, Next:[5041]fiber-seeking backhoe,

   Previous:[5042]fence, Up:[5043]= F =


   fencepost error n.


   1. [common] A problem with the discrete equivalent of a boundary

   condition, often exhibited in programs by iterative loops. From the

   following problem: "If you build a fence 100 feet long with posts 10

   feet apart, how many posts do you need?" (Either 9 or 11 is a better

   answer than the obvious 10.) For example, suppose you have a long list

   or array of items, and want to process items m through n; how many

   items are there? The obvious answer is n - m, but that is off by one;

   the right answer is n - m + 1. A program that used the `obvious'

   formula would have a fencepost error in it. See also [5044]zeroth and

   [5045]off-by-one error, and note that not all off-by-one errors are

   fencepost errors. The game of Musical Chairs involves a catastrophic

   off-by-one error where N people try to sit in N - 1 chairs, but it's

   not a fencepost error. Fencepost errors come from counting things

   rather than the spaces between them, or vice versa, or by neglecting

   to consider whether one should count one or both ends of a row. 2.

   [rare] An error induced by unexpected regularities in input values,

   which can (for instance) completely thwart a theoretically efficient

   binary tree or hash table implementation. (The error here involves the

   difference between expected and worst case behaviors of an algorithm.)



   Node:fiber-seeking backhoe, Next:[5046]FidoNet,

   Previous:[5047]fencepost error, Up:[5048]= F =


   fiber-seeking backhoe


   [common among backbone ISP personnel] Any of a genus of large,

   disruptive machines which routinely cut critical backbone links,

   creating Internet outages and [5049]packet over air problems.



   Node:FidoNet, Next:[5050]field circus, Previous:[5051]fiber-seeking

   backhoe, Up:[5052]= F =


   FidoNet n.


   A worldwide hobbyist network of personal computers which exchanges

   mail, discussion groups, and files. Founded in 1984 and originally

   consisting only of IBM PCs and compatibles, FidoNet now includes such

   diverse machines as Apple ][s, Ataris, Amigas, and Unix systems. For

   years FidoNet actually grew faster than Usenet, but the advent of

   cheap Internet access probably means its days are numbered. In early

   1999 Fidonet has approximately 30,000 nodes, down from 38K in 1996.



   Node:field circus, Next:[5053]field servoid, Previous:[5054]FidoNet,

   Up:[5055]= F =


   field circus n.


   [a derogatory pun on `field service'] The field service organization

   of any hardware manufacturer, but originally [5056]DEC. There is an

   entire genre of jokes about field circus engineers:

Q: How can you recognize a field circus engineer

   with a flat tire?

A: He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q: How can you recognize a field circus engineer

   who is out of gas?

A: He's changing one tire at a time to see which one is flat.

Q: How can you tell it's your field circus engineer?

A: The spare is flat, too.

   [See [5057]Easter egging for additional insight on these jokes.]


   There is also the `Field Circus Cheer' (from the old [5058]plan file

   for DEC on MIT-AI):

Maynard! Maynard!

Don't mess with us!

We're mean and we're tough!

If you get us confused

We'll screw up your stuff.

   (DEC's service HQ, still extant under the Compaq regime, is located in

   Maynard, Massachusetts.)



   Node:field servoid, Next:[5059]Fight-o-net, Previous:[5060]field

   circus, Up:[5061]= F =


   field servoid [play on `android'] /fee'ld ser'voyd/ n.


   Representative of a field service organization (see [5062]field

   circus). This has many of the implications of [5063]droid.



   Node:Fight-o-net, Next:[5064]File Attach, Previous:[5065]field

   servoid, Up:[5066]= F =


   Fight-o-net n.


   [FidoNet] Deliberate distortion of [5067]FidoNet, often applied after

   a flurry of [5068]flamage in a particular [5069]echo, especially the

   SYSOP echo or Fidonews (see [5070]'Snooze).



   Node:File Attach, Next:[5071]File Request, Previous:[5072]Fight-o-net,

   Up:[5073]= F =


   File Attach [FidoNet]


   1. n. A file sent along with a mail message from one FidoNet to

   another. 2. vt. Sending someone a file by using the File Attach option

   in a FidoNet mailer.



   Node:File Request, Next:[5074]file signature, Previous:[5075]File

   Attach, Up:[5076]= F =


   File Request [FidoNet]


   1. n. The [5077]FidoNet equivalent of [5078]FTP, in which one FidoNet

   system automatically dials another and [5079]snarfs one or more files.

   Often abbreviated `FReq'; files are often announced as being

   "available for FReq" in the same way that files are announced as being

   "available for/by anonymous FTP" on the Internet. 2. vt. The act of

   getting a copy of a file by using the File Request option of the

   FidoNet mailer.



   Node:file signature, Next:[5080]filk, Previous:[5081]File Request,

   Up:[5082]= F =


   file signature n.


   A [5083]magic number, sense 3.



   Node:filk, Next:[5084]film at 11, Previous:[5085]file signature,

   Up:[5086]= F =


   filk /filk/ n.,v.


   [from SF fandom, where a typo for `folk' was adopted as a new word] A

   popular or folk song with lyrics revised or completely new lyrics

   and/or music, intended for humorous effect when read, and/or to be

   sung late at night at SF conventions. There is a flourishing subgenre

   of these called `computer filks', written by hackers and often

   containing rather sophisticated technical humor. See [5087]double

   bucky for an example. Compare [5088]grilf, [5089]hing, [5090]pr0n, and




   Node:film at 11, Next:[5092]filter, Previous:[5093]filk, Up:[5094]= F



   film at 11


   [MIT: in parody of TV newscasters] 1. Used in conversation to announce

   ordinary events, with a sarcastic implication that these events are

   earth-shattering. "[5095]ITS crashes; film at 11." "Bug found in

   scheduler; film at 11." 2. Also widely used outside MIT to indicate

   that additional information will be available at some future time,

   without the implication of anything particularly ordinary about the

   referenced event. For example, "The mail file server died this

   morning; we found garbage all over the root directory. Film at 11."

   would indicate that a major failure had occurred but that the people

   working on it have no additional information about it as yet; use of

   the phrase in this way suggests gently that the problem is liable to

   be fixed more quickly if the people doing the fixing can spend time

   doing the fixing rather than responding to questions, the answers to

   which will appear on the normal "11:00 news", if people will just be



   The variant "MPEGs at 11" has recently been cited (MPEG is a

   digital-video format.)



   Node:filter, Next:[5096]Finagle's Law, Previous:[5097]film at 11,

   Up:[5098]= F =


   filter n.


   [very common; orig. [5099]Unix, now also in [5100]MS-DOS] A program

   that processes an input data stream into an output data stream in some

   well-defined way, and does no I/O to anywhere else except possibly on

   error conditions; one designed to be used as a stage in a `pipeline'

   (see [5101]plumbing). Compare [5102]sponge.



   Node:Finagle's Law, Next:[5103]fine, Previous:[5104]filter, Up:[5105]=

   F =


   Finagle's Law n.


   The generalized or `folk' version of [5106]Murphy's Law, fully named

   "Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives" and usually rendered "Anything

   that can go wrong, will". One variant favored among hackers is "The

   perversity of the Universe tends towards a maximum" (but see also

   [5107]Hanlon's Razor). The label `Finagle's Law' was popularized by SF

   author Larry Niven in several stories depicting a frontier culture of

   asteroid miners; this `Belter' culture professed a religion and/or

   running joke involving the worship of the dread god Finagle and his

   mad prophet Murphy. Some technical and scientific cultures (e.g.,

   paleontologists) know it under the name `Sod's Law'; this usage may be

   more common in Great Britain.



   Node:fine, Next:[5108]finger, Previous:[5109]Finagle's Law, Up:[5110]=

   F =


   fine adj.


   [WPI] Good, but not good enough to be [5111]cuspy. The word `fine' is

   used elsewhere, of course, but without the implicit comparison to the

   higher level implied by [5112]cuspy.



   Node:finger, Next:[5113]finger trouble, Previous:[5114]fine,

   Up:[5115]= F =




   [WAITS, via BSD Unix] 1. n. A program that displays information about

   a particular user or all users logged on the system, or a remote

   system. Typically shows full name, last login time, idle time,

   terminal line, and terminal location (where applicable). May also

   display a [5116]plan file left by the user (see also [5117]Hacking X

   for Y). 2. vt. To apply finger to a username. 3. vt. By extension, to

   check a human's current state by any means. "Foodp?" "T!" "OK, finger

   Lisa and see if she's idle." 4. Any picture (composed of ASCII

   characters) depicting `the finger'. Originally a humorous component of

   one's plan file to deter the curious fingerer (sense 2), it has

   entered the arsenal of some [5118]flamers.



   Node:finger trouble, Next:[5119]finger-pointing syndrome,

   Previous:[5120]finger, Up:[5121]= F =


   finger trouble n.


   Mistyping, typos, or generalized keyboard incompetence (this is

   surprisingly common among hackers, given the amount of time they spend

   at keyboards). "I keep putting colons at the end of statements instead

   of semicolons", "Finger trouble again, eh?".



   Node:finger-pointing syndrome, Next:[5122]finn, Previous:[5123]finger

   trouble, Up:[5124]= F =


   finger-pointing syndrome n.


   All-too-frequent result of bugs, esp. in new or experimental

   configurations. The hardware vendor points a finger at the software.

   The software vendor points a finger at the hardware. All the poor

   users get is the finger.



   Node:finn, Next:[5125]firebottle, Previous:[5126]finger-pointing

   syndrome, Up:[5127]= F =


   finn v.


   [IRC] To pull rank on somebody based on the amount of time one has

   spent on [5128]IRC. The term derives from the fact that IRC was

   originally written in Finland in 1987. There may be some influence

   from the `Finn' character in William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel

   "Count Zero", who at one point says to another (much younger)

   character "I have a pair of shoes older than you are, so shut up!"



   Node:firebottle, Next:[5129]firefighting, Previous:[5130]finn,

   Up:[5131]= F =


   firebottle n.obs.


   A large, primitive, power-hungry active electrical device, similar in

   function to a FET but constructed out of glass, metal, and vacuum.

   Characterized by high cost, low density, low reliability,

   high-temperature operation, and high power dissipation. Sometimes

   mistakenly called a `tube' in the U.S. or a `valve' in England;

   another hackish term is [5132]glassfet.



   Node:firefighting, Next:[5133]firehose syndrome,

   Previous:[5134]firebottle, Up:[5135]= F =


   firefighting n.


   1. What sysadmins have to do to correct sudden operational problems.

   An opposite of hacking. "Been hacking your new newsreader?" "No, a

   power glitch hosed the network and I spent the whole afternoon

   fighting fires." 2. The act of throwing lots of manpower and late

   nights at a project, esp. to get it out before deadline. See also

   [5136]gang bang, [5137]Mongolian Hordes technique; however, the term

   `firefighting' connotes that the effort is going into chasing bugs

   rather than adding features.



   Node:firehose syndrome, Next:[5138]firewall code,

   Previous:[5139]firefighting, Up:[5140]= F =


   firehose syndrome n.


   In mainstream folklore it is observed that trying to drink from a

   firehose can be a good way to rip your lips off. On computer networks,

   the absence or failure of flow control mechanisms can lead to

   situations in which the sending system sprays a massive flood of

   packets at an unfortunate receiving system, more than it can handle.

   Compare [5141]overrun, [5142]buffer overflow.



   Node:firewall code, Next:[5143]firewall machine,

   Previous:[5144]firehose syndrome, Up:[5145]= F =


   firewall code n.


   1. The code you put in a system (say, a telephone switch) to make sure

   that the users can't do any damage. Since users always want to be able

   to do everything but never want to suffer for any mistakes, the

   construction of a firewall is a question not only of defensive coding

   but also of interface presentation, so that users don't even get

   curious about those corners of a system where they can burn

   themselves. 2. Any sanity check inserted to catch a [5146]can't happen

   error. Wise programmers often change code to fix a bug twice: once to

   fix the bug, and once to insert a firewall which would have arrested

   the bug before it did quite as much damage.



   Node:firewall machine, Next:[5147]fireworks mode,

   Previous:[5148]firewall code, Up:[5149]= F =


   firewall machine n.


   A dedicated gateway machine with special security precautions on it,

   used to service outside network connections and dial-in lines. The

   idea is to protect a cluster of more loosely administered machines

   hidden behind it from [5150]crackers. The typical firewall is an

   inexpensive micro-based Unix box kept clean of critical data, with a

   bunch of modems and public network ports on it but just one carefully

   watched connection back to the rest of the cluster. The special

   precautions may include threat monitoring, callback, and even a

   complete [5151]iron box keyable to particular incoming IDs or activity

   patterns. Syn. [5152]flytrap, [5153]Venus flytrap.


   [When first coined in the mid-1980s this term was pure jargon. Now

   (1999) it is techspeak, and has been retained only as an example of

   uptake --ESR]



   Node:fireworks mode, Next:[5154]firmware, Previous:[5155]firewall

   machine, Up:[5156]= F =


   fireworks mode n.


   1. The mode a machine is sometimes said to be in when it is performing

   a [5157]crash and burn operation. 2. There is (or was) a more specific

   meaning of this term in the Amiga community. The word fireworks

   described the effects of a particularly serious crash which prevented

   the video pointer(s) from getting reset at the start of the vertical

   blank. This caused the DAC to scroll through the entire contents of

   CHIP (video or video+CPU) memory. Since each bit plane would scroll

   separately this was quite a spectacular effect.



   Node:firmware, Next:[5158]firmy, Previous:[5159]fireworks mode,

   Up:[5160]= F =


   firmware /ferm'weir/ n.


   Embedded software contained in EPROM or flash memory. It isn't quite

   hardware, but at least doesn't have to be loaded from a disk like

   regular software. Hacker usage differs from straight techspeak in that

   hackers don't normally apply it to stuff that you can't possibly get

   at, such as the program that runs a pocket calculator. Instead, it

   implies that the firmware could be changed, even if doing so would

   mean opening a box and plugging in a new chip. A computer's BIOS is

   the classic example, although nowadays there is firmware in disk

   controllers, modems, video cards and even CD-ROM drives.



   Node:firmy, Next:[5161]fish, Previous:[5162]firmware, Up:[5163]= F =


   firmy /fer'mee/ n.


   Syn. [5164]stiffy (a 3.5-inch floppy disk).



   Node:fish, Next:[5165]FISH queue, Previous:[5166]firmy, Up:[5167]= F =


   fish n.


   [Adelaide University, Australia] 1. Another [5168]metasyntactic

   variable. See [5169]foo. Derived originally from the Monty Python skit

   in the middle of "The Meaning of Life" entitled "Find the Fish". 2. A

   pun for `microfiche'. A microfiche file cabinet may be referred to as

   a `fish tank'.



   Node:FISH queue, Next:[5170]FITNR, Previous:[5171]fish, Up:[5172]= F =


   FISH queue n.


   [acronym, by analogy with FIFO (First In, First Out)] `First In, Still

   Here'. A joking way of pointing out that processing of a particular

   sequence of events or requests has stopped dead. Also `FISH mode' and

   `FISHnet'; the latter may be applied to any network that is running

   really slowly or exhibiting extreme flakiness.



   Node:FITNR, Next:[5173]fix, Previous:[5174]FISH queue, Up:[5175]= F =


   FITNR // adj.


   [Thinking Machines, Inc.] Fixed In The Next Release. A written-only

   notation attached to bug reports. Often wishful thinking.



   Node:fix, Next:[5176]FIXME, Previous:[5177]FITNR, Up:[5178]= F =


   fix n.,v.


   What one does when a problem has been reported too many times to be




   Node:FIXME, Next:[5179]flag, Previous:[5180]fix, Up:[5181]= F =


   FIXME imp.


   [common] A standard tag often put in C comments near a piece of code

   that needs work. The point of doing so is that a grep or a similar

   pattern-matching tool can find all such places quickly.

/* FIXME: note this is common in [5182]GNU code. */

   Compare [5183]XXX.



   Node:flag, Next:[5184]flag day, Previous:[5185]FIXME, Up:[5186]= F =


   flag n.


   [very common] A variable or quantity that can take on one of two

   values; a bit, particularly one that is used to indicate one of two

   outcomes or is used to control which of two things is to be done.

   "This flag controls whether to clear the screen before printing the

   message." "The program status word contains several flag bits." Used

   of humans analogously to [5187]bit. See also [5188]hidden flag,

   [5189]mode bit.



   Node:flag day, Next:[5190]flaky, Previous:[5191]flag, Up:[5192]= F =


   flag day n.


   A software change that is neither forward- nor backward-compatible,

   and which is costly to make and costly to reverse. "Can we install

   that without causing a flag day for all users?" This term has nothing

   to do with the use of the word [5193]flag to mean a variable that has

   two values. It came into use when a massive change was made to the

   [5194]Multics timesharing system to convert from the short-lived 1965

   version of the ASCII code to the 1967 version (in draft at the time);

   this was scheduled for Flag Day (a U.S. holiday), June 14, 1966. The

   actual change moved the code point for the ASCII newline character;

   this required that all of the Multics source code, documentation, and

   device drivers be changed simultaneously. See also [5195]backward




   Node:flaky, Next:[5196]flamage, Previous:[5197]flag day, Up:[5198]= F



   flaky adj.


   (var sp. `flakey') Subject to frequent [5199]lossage. This use is of

   course related to the common slang use of the word to describe a

   person as eccentric, crazy, or just unreliable. A system that is flaky

   is working, sort of -- enough that you are tempted to try to use it --

   but fails frequently enough that the odds in favor of finishing what

   you start are low. Commonwealth hackish prefers [5200]dodgy or




   Node:flamage, Next:[5202]flame, Previous:[5203]flaky, Up:[5204]= F =


   flamage /flay'm*j/ n.


   [very common] Flaming verbiage, esp. high-noise, low-signal postings

   to [5205]Usenet or other electronic [5206]fora. Often in the phrase

   `the usual flamage'. `Flaming' is the act itself; `flamage' the

   content; a `flame' is a single flaming message. See [5207]flame, also




   Node:flame, Next:[5209]flame bait, Previous:[5210]flamage, Up:[5211]=

   F =




   [at MIT, orig. from the phrase `flaming asshole'] 1. vi. To post an

   email message intended to insult and provoke. 2. vi. To speak

   incessantly and/or rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or

   with a patently ridiculous attitude. 3. vt. Either of senses 1 or 2,

   directed with hostility at a particular person or people. 4. n. An

   instance of flaming. When a discussion degenerates into useless

   controversy, one might tell the participants "Now you're just flaming"

   or "Stop all that flamage!" to try to get them to cool down (so to



   The term may have been independently invented at several different

   places. It has been reported from MIT, Carleton College and RPI (among

   many other places) from as far back as 1969, and from the University

   of Virginia in the early 1960s.


   It is possible that the hackish sense of `flame' is much older than

   that. The poet Chaucer was also what passed for a wizard hacker in his

   time; he wrote a treatise on the astrolabe, the most advanced

   computing device of the day. In Chaucer's "Troilus and Cressida",

   Cressida laments her inability to grasp the proof of a particular

   mathematical theorem; her uncle Pandarus then observes that it's

   called "the fleminge of wrecches." This phrase seems to have been

   intended in context as "that which puts the wretches to flight" but

   was probably just as ambiguous in Middle English as "the flaming of

   wretches" would be today. One suspects that Chaucer would feel right

   at home on Usenet.



   Node:flame bait, Next:[5212]flame on, Previous:[5213]flame, Up:[5214]=

   F =


   flame bait n.


   [common] A posting intended to trigger a [5215]flame war, or one that

   invites flames in reply. See also [5216]troll.



   Node:flame on, Next:[5217]flame war, Previous:[5218]flame bait,

   Up:[5219]= F =


   flame on vi.,interj.


   1. To begin to [5220]flame. The punning reference to Marvel Comics's

   Human Torch is no longer widely recognized. 2. To continue to flame.

   See [5221]rave, [5222]burble.



   Node:flame war, Next:[5223]flamer, Previous:[5224]flame on, Up:[5225]=

   F =


   flame war n.


   [common] (var. `flamewar') An acrimonious dispute, especially when

   conducted on a public electronic forum such as [5226]Usenet.



   Node:flamer, Next:[5227]flap, Previous:[5228]flame war, Up:[5229]= F =


   flamer n.


   [common] One who habitually [5230]flames. Said esp. of obnoxious

   [5231]Usenet personalities.



   Node:flap, Next:[5232]flarp, Previous:[5233]flamer, Up:[5234]= F =


   flap vt.


   1. [obs.] To unload a DECtape (so it goes flap, flap, flap...).

   Old-time hackers at MIT tell of the days when the disk was device 0

   and DEC microtapes were 1, 2,... and attempting to flap device 0 would

   instead start a motor banging inside a cabinet near the disk. 2. By

   extension, to unload any magnetic tape. See also [5235]macrotape.

   Modern cartridge tapes no longer actually flap, but the usage has

   remained. (The term could well be re-applied to DEC's TK50 cartridge

   tape drive, a spectacularly misengineered contraption which makes a

   loud flapping sound, almost like an old reel-type lawnmower, in one of

   its many tape-eating failure modes.)



   Node:flarp, Next:[5236]flash crowd, Previous:[5237]flap, Up:[5238]= F



   flarp /flarp/ n.


   [Rutgers University] Yet another [5239]metasyntactic variable (see

   [5240]foo). Among those who use it, it is associated with a legend

   that any program not containing the word `flarp' somewhere will not

   work. The legend is discreetly silent on the reliability of programs

   which do contain the magic word.



   Node:flash crowd, Next:[5241]flat, Previous:[5242]flarp, Up:[5243]= F



   flash crowd


   Larry Niven's 1973 SF short story "Flash Crowd" predicted that one

   consequence of cheap teleportation would be huge crowds materializing

   almost instantly at the sites of interesting news stories. Twenty

   years later the term passed into common use on the Internet to

   describe exponential spikes in website or server usage when one passes

   a certain threshold of popular interest (this may also be called

   [5244]slashdot effect).



   Node:flat, Next:[5245]flat-ASCII, Previous:[5246]flash crowd,

   Up:[5247]= F =


   flat adj.


   1. [common] Lacking any complex internal structure. "That [5248]bitty

   box has only a flat filesystem, not a hierarchical one." The verb form

   is [5249]flatten. 2. Said of a memory architecture (like that of the

   VAX or 680x0) that is one big linear address space (typically with

   each possible value of a processor register corresponding to a unique

   core address), as opposed to a `segmented' architecture (like that of

   the 80x86) in which addresses are composed from a base-register/offset

   pair (segmented designs are generally considered [5250]cretinous).


   Note that sense 1 (at least with respect to filesystems) is usually

   used pejoratively, while sense 2 is a [5251]Good Thing.



   Node:flat-ASCII, Next:[5252]flat-file, Previous:[5253]flat, Up:[5254]=

   F =


   flat-ASCII adj.


   [common] Said of a text file that contains only 7-bit ASCII characters

   and uses only ASCII-standard control characters (that is, has no

   embedded codes specific to a particular text formatter markup

   language, or output device, and no [5255]meta-characters). Syn.

   [5256]plain-ASCII. Compare [5257]flat-file.



   Node:flat-file, Next:[5258]flatten, Previous:[5259]flat-ASCII,

   Up:[5260]= F =


   flat-file adj.


   A [5261]flattened representation of some database or tree or network

   structure as a single file from which the structure could implicitly

   be rebuilt, esp. one in [5262]flat-ASCII form. See also




   Node:flatten, Next:[5264]flavor, Previous:[5265]flat-file, Up:[5266]=

   F =


   flatten vt.


   [common] To remove structural information, esp. to filter something

   with an implicit tree structure into a simple sequence of leaves; also

   tends to imply mapping to [5267]flat-ASCII. "This code flattens an

   expression with parentheses into an equivalent [5268]canonical form."



   Node:flavor, Next:[5269]flavorful, Previous:[5270]flatten, Up:[5271]=

   F =


   flavor n.


   1. [common] Variety, type, kind. "DDT commands come in two flavors."

   "These lights come in two flavors, big red ones and small green ones."

   "Linux is a flavor of Unix" See [5272]vanilla. 2. The attribute that

   causes something to be [5273]flavorful. Usually used in the phrase

   "yields additional flavor". "This convention yields additional flavor

   by allowing one to print text either right-side-up or upside-down."

   See [5274]vanilla. This usage was certainly reinforced by the

   terminology of quantum chromodynamics, in which quarks (the

   constituents of, e.g., protons) come in six flavors (up, down,

   strange, charm, top, bottom) and three colors (red, blue, green) --

   however, hackish use of `flavor' at MIT predated QCD. 3. The term for

   `class' (in the object-oriented sense) in the LISP Machine Flavors

   system. Though the Flavors design has been superseded (notably by the

   Common LISP CLOS facility), the term `flavor' is still used as a

   general synonym for `class' by some LISP hackers.



   Node:flavorful, Next:[5275]flippy, Previous:[5276]flavor, Up:[5277]= F



   flavorful adj.


   Full of [5278]flavor (sense 2); esthetically pleasing. See

   [5279]random and [5280]losing for antonyms. See also the entries for

   [5281]taste and [5282]elegant.



   Node:flippy, Next:[5283]flood, Previous:[5284]flavorful, Up:[5285]= F



   flippy /flip'ee/ n.


   A single-sided floppy disk altered for double-sided use by addition of

   a second write-notch, so called because it must be flipped over for

   the second side to be accessible. No longer common.



   Node:flood, Next:[5286]flowchart, Previous:[5287]flippy, Up:[5288]= F



   flood v.


   [common] 1. To overwhelm a network channel with mechanically-generated

   traffic; especially used of IP, TCP/IP, UDP, or ICMP denial-of-service

   attacks. 2. To dump large amounts of text onto an [5289]IRC channel.

   This is especially rude when the text is uninteresting and the other

   users are trying to carry on a serious conversation. Also used in a

   similar sense on Usenet. 3. [Usenet] To post an unusually large number

   or volume of files on a related topic.



   Node:flowchart, Next:[5290]flower key, Previous:[5291]flood,

   Up:[5292]= F =


   flowchart n.


   [techspeak] An archaic form of visual control-flow specification

   employing arrows and `speech balloons' of various shapes. Hackers

   never use flowcharts, consider them extremely silly, and associate

   them with [5293]COBOL programmers, [5294]card wallopers, and other

   lower forms of life. This attitude follows from the observations that

   flowcharts (at least from a hacker's point of view) are no easier to

   read than code, are less precise, and tend to fall out of sync with

   the code (so that they either obfuscate it rather than explaining it,

   or require extra maintenance effort that doesn't improve the code).

   See also [5295]PDL, sense 1.



   Node:flower key, Next:[5296]flush, Previous:[5297]flowchart,

   Up:[5298]= F =


   flower key n.


   [Mac users] See [5299]feature key.



   Node:flush, Next:[5300]flypage, Previous:[5301]flower key, Up:[5302]=

   F =


   flush v.


   1. [common] To delete something, usually superfluous, or to abort an

   operation. "All that nonsense has been flushed." 2. [Unix/C] To force

   buffered I/O to disk, as with an fflush(3) call. This is not an abort

   or deletion as in sense 1, but a demand for early completion! 3. To

   leave at the end of a day's work (as opposed to leaving for a meal).

   "I'm going to flush now." "Time to flush." 4. To exclude someone from

   an activity, or to ignore a person.


   `Flush' was standard ITS terminology for aborting an output operation;

   one spoke of the text that would have been printed, but was not, as

   having been flushed. It is speculated that this term arose from a

   vivid image of flushing unwanted characters by hosing down the

   internal output buffer, washing the characters away before they could

   be printed. The Unix/C usage, on the other hand, was propagated by the

   fflush(3) call in C's standard I/O library (though it is reported to

   have been in use among BLISS programmers at [5303]DEC and on Honeywell

   and IBM machines as far back as 1965). Unix/C hackers found the ITS

   usage confusing, and vice versa.



   Node:flypage, Next:[5304]Flyspeck 3, Previous:[5305]flush, Up:[5306]=

   F =


   flypage /fli:'payj/ n.


   (alt. `fly page') A [5307]banner, sense 1.



   Node:Flyspeck 3, Next:[5308]flytrap, Previous:[5309]flypage,

   Up:[5310]= F =


   Flyspeck 3 n.


   Standard name for any font that is so tiny as to be unreadable (by

   analogy with names like `Helvetica 10' for 10-point Helvetica). Legal

   boilerplate is usually printed in Flyspeck 3.



   Node:flytrap, Next:[5311]FM, Previous:[5312]Flyspeck 3, Up:[5313]= F =


   flytrap n.


   [rare] See [5314]firewall machine.



   Node:FM, Next:[5315]fnord, Previous:[5316]flytrap, Up:[5317]= F =


   FM /F-M/ n.


   1. [common] Not `Frequency Modulation' but rather an abbreviation for

   `Fucking Manual', the back-formation from [5318]RTFM. Used to refer to

   the manual itself in the [5319]RTFM. "Have you seen the Networking FM

   lately?" 2. Abbreviation for "Fucking Magic", used in the sense of

   [5320]black magic.



   Node:fnord, Next:[5321]FOAF, Previous:[5322]FM, Up:[5323]= F =


   fnord n.


   [from the "Illuminatus Trilogy"] 1. A word used in email and news

   postings to tag utterances as surrealist mind-play or humor, esp. in

   connection with [5324]Discordianism and elaborate conspiracy theories.

   "I heard that David Koresh is sharing an apartment in Argentina with

   Hitler. (Fnord.)" "Where can I fnord get the Principia Discordia

   from?" 2. A [5325]metasyntactic variable, commonly used by hackers

   with ties to [5326]Discordianism or the [5327]Church of the SubGenius.



   Node:FOAF, Next:[5328]FOD, Previous:[5329]fnord, Up:[5330]= F =


   FOAF // n.


   [Usenet; common] Acronym for `Friend Of A Friend'. The source of an

   unverified, possibly untrue story. This term was not originated by

   hackers (it is used in Jan Brunvand's books on urban folklore), but is

   much better recognized on Usenet and elsewhere than in mainstream




   Node:FOD, Next:[5331]fold case, Previous:[5332]FOAF, Up:[5333]= F =


   FOD /fod/ v.


   [Abbreviation for `Finger of Death', originally a spell-name from

   fantasy gaming] To terminate with extreme prejudice and with no regard

   for other people. From [5334]MUDs where the wizard command `FOD

   <player>' results in the immediate and total death of <player>,

   usually as punishment for obnoxious behavior. This usage migrated to

   other circumstances, such as "I'm going to fod the process that is

   burning all the cycles." Compare [5335]gun.


   In aviation, FOD means Foreign Object Damage, e.g., what happens when

   a jet engine sucks up a rock on the runway or a bird in flight. Finger

   of Death is a distressingly apt description of what this generally

   does to the engine.



   Node:fold case, Next:[5336]followup, Previous:[5337]FOD, Up:[5338]= F



   fold case v.


   See [5339]smash case. This term tends to be used more by people who

   don't mind that their tools smash case. It also connotes that case is

   ignored but case distinctions in data processed by the tool in

   question aren't destroyed.



   Node:followup, Next:[5340]fontology, Previous:[5341]fold case,

   Up:[5342]= F =


   followup n.


   [common] On Usenet, a [5343]posting generated in response to another

   posting (as opposed to a [5344]reply, which goes by email rather than

   being broadcast). Followups include the ID of the [5345]parent message

   in their headers; smart news-readers can use this information to

   present Usenet news in `conversation' sequence rather than

   order-of-arrival. See [5346]thread.



   Node:fontology, Next:[5347]foo, Previous:[5348]followup, Up:[5349]= F



   fontology n.


   [XEROX PARC] The body of knowledge dealing with the construction and

   use of new fonts (e.g., for window systems and typesetting software).

   It has been said that fontology recapitulates file-ogeny.


   [Unfortunately, this reference to the embryological dictum that

   "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" is not merely a joke. On the

   Macintosh, for example, System 7 has to go through contortions to

   compensate for an earlier design error that created a whole different

   set of abstractions for fonts parallel to `files' and `folders' --ESR]



   Node:foo, Next:[5350]foobar, Previous:[5351]fontology, Up:[5352]= F =


   foo /foo/


   1. interj. Term of disgust. 2. [very common] Used very generally as a

   sample name for absolutely anything, esp. programs and files (esp.

   scratch files). 3. First on the standard list of [5353]metasyntactic

   variables used in syntax examples. See also [5354]bar, [5355]baz,

   [5356]qux, [5357]quux, [5358]corge, [5359]grault, [5360]garply,

   [5361]waldo, [5362]fred, [5363]plugh, [5364]xyzzy, [5365]thud.


   When `foo' is used in connection with `bar' it has generally traced to

   the WWII-era Army slang acronym [5366]FUBAR (`Fucked Up Beyond All

   Repair'), later modified to [5367]foobar. Early versions of the Jargon

   File interpreted this change as a post-war bowdlerization, but it it

   now seems more likely that FUBAR was itself a derivative of `foo'

   perhaps influenced by German `furchtbar' (terrible) - `foobar' may

   actually have been the original form.


   For, it seems, the word `foo' itself had an immediate prewar history

   in comic strips and cartoons. The earliest documented uses were in the

   "Smokey Stover" comic strip popular in the 1930s, which frequently

   included the word "foo". Bill Holman, the author of the strip, filled

   it with odd jokes and personal contrivances, including other nonsense

   phrases such as "Notary Sojac" and "1506 nix nix". According to the

   [5368]Warner Brothers Cartoon Companion Holman claimed to have found

   the word "foo" on the bottom of a Chinese figurine. This is plausible;

   Chinese statuettes often have apotropaic inscriptions, and this may

   have been the Chinese word `fu' (sometimes transliterated `foo'),

   which can mean "happiness" when spoken with the proper tone (the

   lion-dog guardians flanking the steps of many Chinese restaurants are

   properly called "fu dogs"). English speakers' reception of Holman's

   `foo' nonsense word was undoubtedly influenced by Yiddish `feh' and

   English `fooey' and `fool'.


   Holman's strip featured a firetruck called the Foomobile that rode on

   two wheels. The comic strip was tremendously popular in the late

   1930s, and legend has it that a manufacturer in Indiana even produced

   an operable version of Holman's Foomobile. According to the

   Encyclopedia of American Comics, `Foo' fever swept the U.S., finding

   its way into popular songs and generating over 500 `Foo Clubs.' The

   fad left `foo' references embedded in popular culture (including a

   couple of appearances in Warner Brothers cartoons of 1938-39) but with

   their origins rapidly forgotten.


   One place they are known to have remained live is in the U.S. military

   during the WWII years. In 1944-45, the term `foo fighters' was in use

   by radar operators for the kind of mysterious or spurious trace that

   would later be called a UFO (the older term resurfaced in popular

   American usage in 1995 via the name of one of the better grunge-rock

   bands). Informants connected the term to the Smokey Stover strip.


   The U.S. and British militaries frequently swapped slang terms during

   the war (see [5369]kluge and [5370]kludge for another important

   example) Period sources reported that `FOO' became a semi-legendary

   subject of WWII British-army graffiti more or less equivalent to the

   American Kilroy. Where British troops went, the graffito "FOO was

   here" or something similar showed up. Several slang dictionaries aver

   that FOO probably came from Forward Observation Officer, but this

   (like the contemporaneous "FUBAR") was probably a [5371]backronym .

   Forty years later, Paul Dickson's excellent book "Words" (Dell, 1982,

   ISBN 0-440-52260-7) traced "Foo" to an unspecified British naval

   magazine in 1946, quoting as follows: "Mr. Foo is a mysterious Second

   World War product, gifted with bitter omniscience and sarcasm."


   Earlier versions of this entry suggested the possibility that hacker

   usage actually sprang from "FOO, Lampoons and Parody", the title of a

   comic book first issued in September 1958, a joint project of Charles

   and Robert Crumb. Though Robert Crumb (then in his mid-teens) later

   became one of the most important and influential artists in

   underground comics, this venture was hardly a success; indeed, the

   brothers later burned most of the existing copies in disgust. The

   title FOO was featured in large letters on the front cover. However,

   very few copies of this comic actually circulated, and students of

   Crumb's `oeuvre' have established that this title was a reference to

   the earlier Smokey Stover comics. The Crumbs may also have been

   influenced by a short-lived Canadian parody magazine named `Foo'

   published in 1951-52.


   An old-time member reports that in the 1959 "Dictionary of the TMRC

   Language", compiled at [5372]TMRC, there was an entry that went

   something like this:


     FOO: The first syllable of the sacred chant phrase "FOO MANE PADME

     HUM." Our first obligation is to keep the foo counters turning.


   (For more about the legendary foo counters, see [5373]TMRC.) This

   definition used Bill Holman's nonsense word, only then two decades old

   and demonstrably still live in popular culture and slang, to a

   [5374]ha ha only serious analogy with esoteric Tibetan Buddhism.

   Today's hackers would find it difficult to resist elaborating a joke

   like that, and it is not likely 1959's were any less susceptible.

   Almost the entire staff of what later became the MIT AI Lab was

   involved with TMRC, and the word spread from there.



   Node:foobar, Next:[5375]fool, Previous:[5376]foo, Up:[5377]= F =


   foobar n.


   [very common] Another widely used [5378]metasyntactic variable; see

   [5379]foo for etymology. Probably originally propagated through

   DECsystem manuals by Digital Equipment Corporation ([5380]DEC) in

   1960s and early 1970s; confirmed sightings there go back to 1972.

   Hackers do not generally use this to mean [5381]FUBAR in either the

   slang or jargon sense. See also [5382]Fred Foobar. In RFC1639,

   "FOOBAR" was made an abbreviation for "FTP Operation Over Big Address

   Records", but this was an obvious [5383]backronym.



   Node:fool, Next:[5384]fool file, Previous:[5385]foobar, Up:[5386]= F =


   fool n.


   As used by hackers, specifically describes a person who habitually

   reasons from obviously or demonstrably incorrect premises and cannot

   be persuaded by evidence to do otherwise; it is not generally used in

   its other senses, i.e., to describe a person with a native incapacity

   to reason correctly, or a clown. Indeed, in hackish experience many

   fools are capable of reasoning all too effectively in executing their

   errors. See also [5387]cretin, [5388]loser, [5389]fool file.


   The Algol 68-R compiler used to initialize its storage to the

   character string "F00LF00LF00LF00L..." because as a pointer or as a

   floating point number it caused a crash, and as an integer or a

   character string it was very recognizable in a dump. Sadly, one day a

   very senior professor at Nottingham University wrote a program that

   called him a fool. He proceeded to demonstrate the correctness of this

   assertion by lobbying the university (not quite successfully) to

   forbid the use of Algol on its computers. See also [5390]DEADBEEF.



   Node:fool file, Next:[5391]Foonly, Previous:[5392]fool, Up:[5393]= F =


   fool file n.


   [Usenet] A notional repository of all the most dramatically and

   abysmally stupid utterances ever. An entire subgenre of [5394]sig

   blocks consists of the header "From the fool file:" followed by some

   quote the poster wishes to represent as an immortal gem of dimwittery;

   for this usage to be really effective, the quote has to be so

   obviously wrong as to be laughable. More than one Usenetter has

   achieved an unwanted notoriety by being quoted in this way.



   Node:Foonly, Next:[5395]footprint, Previous:[5396]fool file,

   Up:[5397]= F =


   Foonly n.


   1. The [5398]PDP-10 successor that was to have been built by the Super

   Foonly project at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

   along with a new operating system. (The name itself came from FOO NLI,

   an error message emitted by a PDP-10 assembler at SAIL meaning "FOO is

   Not a Legal Identifier". The intention was to leapfrog from the old

   [5399]DEC timesharing system SAIL was then running to a new

   generation, bypassing TENEX which at that time was the ARPANET

   standard. ARPA funding for both the Super Foonly and the new operating

   system was cut in 1974. Most of the design team went to DEC and

   contributed greatly to the design of the PDP-10 model KL10. 2. The

   name of the company formed by Dave Poole, one of the principal Super

   Foonly designers, and one of hackerdom's more colorful personalities.

   Many people remember the parrot which sat on Poole's shoulder and was

   a regular companion. 3. Any of the machines built by Poole's company.

   The first was the F-1 (a.k.a. Super Foonly), which was the

   computational engine used to create the graphics in the movie "TRON".

   The F-1 was the fastest PDP-10 ever built, but only one was ever made.

   The effort drained Foonly of its financial resources, and the company

   turned towards building smaller, slower, and much less expensive

   machines. Unfortunately, these ran not the popular [5400]TOPS-20 but a

   TENEX variant called Foonex; this seriously limited their market.

   Also, the machines shipped were actually wire-wrapped engineering

   prototypes requiring individual attention from more than usually

   competent site personnel, and thus had significant reliability

   problems. Poole's legendary temper and unwillingness to suffer fools

   gladly did not help matters. By the time of the Jupiter project

   cancellation in 1983, Foonly's proposal to build another F-1 was

   eclipsed by the [5401]Mars, and the company never quite recovered. See

   the [5402]Mars entry for the continuation and moral of this story.



   Node:footprint, Next:[5403]for free, Previous:[5404]Foonly, Up:[5405]=

   F =


   footprint n.


   1. The floor or desk area taken up by a piece of hardware. 2. [IBM]

   The audit trail (if any) left by a crashed program (often in plural,

   `footprints'). See also [5406]toeprint. 3. RAM footprint: The minimum

   amount of RAM which an OS or other program takes; this figure gives

   one an idea of how much will be left for other applications. How

   actively this RAM is used is another matter entirely. Recent

   tendencies to featuritis and software bloat can expand the RAM

   footprint of an OS to the point of making it nearly unusable in

   practice. [This problem is, thankfully, limited to operating systems

   so stupid that they don't do virtual memory - ESR]



   Node:for free, Next:[5407]for the rest of us,

   Previous:[5408]footprint, Up:[5409]= F =


   for free adj.


   [common] Said of a capability of a programming language or hardware

   that is available by its design without needing cleverness to

   implement: "In APL, we get the matrix operations for free." "And owing

   to the way revisions are stored in this system, you get revision trees

   for free." The term usually refers to a serendipitous feature of doing

   things a certain way (compare [5410]big win), but it may refer to an

   intentional but secondary feature.



   Node:for the rest of us, Next:[5411]for values of, Previous:[5412]for

   free, Up:[5413]= F =


   for the rest of us adj.


   [from the Mac slogan "The computer for the rest of us"] 1. Used to

   describe a [5414]spiffy product whose affordability shames other

   comparable products, or (more often) used sarcastically to describe

   [5415]spiffy but very overpriced products. 2. Describes a program with

   a limited interface, deliberately limited capabilities,

   non-orthogonality, inability to compose primitives, or any other

   limitation designed to not `confuse' a naive user. This places an

   upper bound on how far that user can go before the program begins to

   get in the way of the task instead of helping accomplish it. Used in

   reference to Macintosh software which doesn't provide obvious

   capabilities because it is thought that the poor lusers might not be

   able to handle them. Becomes `the rest of them' when used in

   third-party reference; thus, "Yes, it is an attractive program, but

   it's designed for The Rest Of Them" means a program that superficially

   looks neat but has no depth beyond the surface flash. See also

   [5416]WIMP environment, [5417]Macintrash, [5418]point-and-drool

   interface, [5419]user-friendly.



   Node:for values of, Next:[5420]fora, Previous:[5421]for the rest of

   us, Up:[5422]= F =


   for values of


   [MIT] A common rhetorical maneuver at MIT is to use any of the

   canonical [5423]random numbers as placeholders for variables. "The max

   function takes 42 arguments, for arbitrary values of 42." "There are

   69 ways to leave your lover, for 69 = 50." This is especially likely

   when the speaker has uttered a random number and realizes that it was

   not recognized as such, but even `non-random' numbers are occasionally

   used in this fashion. A related joke is that pi equals 3 -- for small

   values of pi and large values of 3.


   Historical note: at MIT this usage has traditionally been traced to

   the programming language MAD (Michigan Algorithm Decoder), an

   Algol-58-like language that was the most common choice among

   mainstream (non-hacker) users at MIT in the mid-60s. It inherited from

   Algol-58 a control structure FOR VALUES OF X = 3, 7, 99 DO ... that

   would repeat the indicated instructions for each value in the list

   (unlike the usual FOR that only works for arithmetic sequences of

   values). MAD is long extinct, but similar for-constructs still

   flourish (e.g., in Unix's shell languages).



   Node:fora, Next:[5424]foreground, Previous:[5425]for values of,

   Up:[5426]= F =


   fora pl.n.


   Plural of [5427]forum.



   Node:foreground, Next:[5428]fork, Previous:[5429]fora, Up:[5430]= F =


   foreground vt.


   [Unix; common] To bring a task to the top of one's [5431]stack for

   immediate processing, and hackers often use it in this sense for

   non-computer tasks. "If your presentation is due next week, I guess

   I'd better foreground writing up the design document."


   Technically, on a time-sharing system, a task executing in foreground

   is one able to accept input from and return output to the user; oppose

   [5432]background. Nowadays this term is primarily associated with

   [5433]Unix, but it appears first to have been used in this sense on

   OS/360. Normally, there is only one foreground task per terminal (or

   terminal window); having multiple processes simultaneously reading the

   keyboard is a good way to [5434]lose.



   Node:fork, Next:[5435]fork bomb, Previous:[5436]foreground, Up:[5437]=

   F =




   In the open-source community, a fork is what occurs when two (or more)

   versions of a software package's source code are being developed in

   parallel which once shared a common code base, and these multiple

   versions of the source code have irreconcilable differences between

   them. This should not be confused with a development branch, which may

   later be folded back into the original source code base. Nor should it

   be confused with what happens when a new distribution of Linux or some

   other distribution is created, because that largely assembles pieces

   than can and will be used in other distributions without conflict.


   Forking is uncommon; in fact, it is so uncommon that individual

   instances loom large in hacker folklore. Notable in this class were

   the [5438], the

   GCC/EGCS fork (later healed by a merger) and the forks among the

   FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD operating systems.



   Node:fork bomb, Next:[5439]forked, Previous:[5440]fork, Up:[5441]= F =


   fork bomb n.


   [Unix] A particular species of [5442]wabbit that can be written in one

   line of C (main() {for(;;)fork();}) or shell ($0 & $0 &) on any Unix

   system, or occasionally created by an egregious coding bug. A fork

   bomb process `explodes' by recursively spawning copies of itself

   (using the Unix system call fork(2)). Eventually it eats all the

   process table entries and effectively wedges the system. Fortunately,

   fork bombs are relatively easy to spot and kill, so creating one

   deliberately seldom accomplishes more than to bring the just wrath of

   the gods down upon the perpetrator. See also [5443]logic bomb.



   Node:forked, Next:[5444]Fortrash, Previous:[5445]fork bomb, Up:[5446]=

   F =


   forked adj.,vi.


   1. [common after 1997, esp. in the Linux community] An open-source

   software project is said to have forked or be forked when the project

   group fissions into two or more parts pursuing separate lines of

   development (or, less commonly, when a third party unconnected to the

   project group ). Forking is considered a [5447]Bad Thing - not merely

   because it implies a lot of wasted effort in the future, but because

   forks tend to be accompanied by a great deal of strife and acrimony

   between the successor groups over issues of legitimacy, succession,

   and design direction. There is serious social pressure against

   forking. As a result, major forks (such as the Gnu-Emacs/XEmacs split,

   the fissionings of the 386BSD group into three daughter project, and

   the short-lived GCC/EGCS split) are rare enough that they are

   remembered individually in hacker folklore. 2. [Unix; uncommon; prob.

   influenced by a mainstream expletive] Terminally slow, or dead.

   Originated when one system was slowed to a snail's pace by an

   inadvertent [5448]fork bomb.



   Node:Fortrash, Next:[5449]fortune cookie, Previous:[5450]forked,

   Up:[5451]= F =


   Fortrash /for'trash/ n.


   Hackerism for the FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslator) language, referring to

   its primitive design, gross and irregular syntax, limited control

   constructs, and slippery, exception-filled semantics.



   Node:fortune cookie, Next:[5452]forum, Previous:[5453]Fortrash,

   Up:[5454]= F =


   fortune cookie n.


   [WAITS, via Unix; common] A random quote, item of trivia, joke, or

   maxim printed to the user's tty at login time or (less commonly) at

   logout time. Items from this lexicon have often been used as fortune

   cookies. See [5455]cookie file.



   Node:forum, Next:[5456]fossil, Previous:[5457]fortune cookie,

   Up:[5458]= F =


   forum n.


   [Usenet, GEnie, CI$; pl. `fora' or `forums'] Any discussion group

   accessible through a dial-in [5459]BBS, a [5460]mailing list, or a

   [5461]newsgroup (see [5462]the network). A forum functions much like a

   bulletin board; users submit [5463]postings for all to read and

   discussion ensues. Contrast real-time chat via [5464]talk mode or

   point-to-point personal [5465]email.



   Node:fossil, Next:[5466]four-color glossies, Previous:[5467]forum,

   Up:[5468]= F =


   fossil n.


   1. In software, a misfeature that becomes understandable only in

   historical context, as a remnant of times past retained so as not to

   break compatibility. Example: the retention of octal as default base

   for string escapes in [5469]C, in spite of the better match of

   hexadecimal to ASCII and modern byte-addressable architectures. See

   [5470]dusty deck. 2. More restrictively, a feature with past but no

   present utility. Example: the force-all-caps (LCASE) bits in the V7

   and [5471]BSD Unix tty driver, designed for use with monocase

   terminals. (In a perversion of the usual backward-compatibility goal,

   this functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in some

   later [5472]USG Unix releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits.) 3. The

   FOSSIL (Fido/Opus/Seadog Standard Interface Level) driver

   specification for serial-port access to replace the [5473]brain-dead

   routines in the IBM PC ROMs. Fossils are used by most MS-DOS [5474]BBS

   software in preference to the `supported' ROM routines, which do not

   support interrupt-driven operation or setting speeds above 9600; the

   use of a semistandard FOSSIL library is preferable to the [5475]bare

   metal serial port programming otherwise required. Since the FOSSIL

   specification allows additional functionality to be hooked in, drivers

   that use the [5476]hook but do not provide serial-port access

   themselves are named with a modifier, as in `video fossil'.



   Node:four-color glossies, Next:[5477]frag, Previous:[5478]fossil,

   Up:[5479]= F =


   four-color glossies n.


   1. Literature created by [5480]marketroids that allegedly contains

   technical specs but which is in fact as superficial as possible

   without being totally [5481]content-free. "Forget the four-color

   glossies, give me the tech ref manuals." Often applied as an

   indication of superficiality even when the material is printed on

   ordinary paper in black and white. Four-color-glossy manuals are never

   useful for solving a problem. 2. [rare] Applied by extension to manual

   pages that don't contain enough information to diagnose why the

   program doesn't produce the expected or desired output.



   Node:frag, Next:[5482]fragile, Previous:[5483]four-color glossies,

   Up:[5484]= F =


   frag n.,v.


   [from Vietnam-era U.S. military slang via the games Doom and Quake] 1.

   To kill another player's [5485]avatar in a multiuser game. "I hold the

   office Quake record with 40 frags." 2. To completely ruin something.

   "Forget that power supply, the lightning strike fragged it. See also




   Node:fragile, Next:[5487]fred, Previous:[5488]frag, Up:[5489]= F =


   fragile adj.


   Syn [5490]brittle.



   Node:fred, Next:[5491]Fred Foobar, Previous:[5492]fragile, Up:[5493]=

   F =


   fred n.


   1. The personal name most frequently used as a [5494]metasyntactic

   variable (see [5495]foo). Allegedly popular because it's easy for a

   non-touch-typist to type on a standard QWERTY keyboard. In Great

   Britain, `fred', `jim' and `sheila' are common metasyntactic variables

   because their uppercase versions were official names given to the 3

   memory areas that held I/O status registers on the lovingly-remembered

   BBC Microcomputer! (It is reported that SHEILA was poked the most

   often.) Unlike [5496]J. Random Hacker or `J. Random Loser', the name

   `fred' has no positive or negative loading (but see [5497]Dr. Fred

   Mbogo). See also [5498]barney. 2. An acronym for `Flipping Ridiculous

   Electronic Device'; other F-verbs may be substituted for `flipping'.



   Node:Fred Foobar, Next:[5499]frednet, Previous:[5500]fred, Up:[5501]=

   F =


   Fred Foobar n.


   [5502]J. Random Hacker's cousin. Any typical human being, more or less

   synomous with `someone' except that Fred Foobar can be

   [5503]backreferenced by name later on. "So Fred Foobar will enter his

   phone number into the database, and it'll be archived with the others.

   Months later, when Fred searches..." See also [5504]Bloggs Family and

   [5505]Dr. Fred Mbogo



   Node:frednet, Next:[5506]free software, Previous:[5507]Fred Foobar,

   Up:[5508]= F =


   frednet /fred'net/ n.


   Used to refer to some [5509]random and uncommon protocol encountered

   on a network. "We're implementing bridging in our router to solve the

   frednet problem."



   Node:free software, Next:[5510]freeware, Previous:[5511]frednet,

   Up:[5512]= F =


   free software n.


   As defined by Richard M. Stallman and used by the Free Software

   movement, this means software that gives users enough freedom to be

   used by the free software community. Specifically, users must be free

   to modify the software for their private use, and free to redistribute

   it either with or without modifications, either commercially or

   noncommercially, either gratis or charging a distribution fee. Free

   software has existed since the dawn of computing; Free Software as a

   movement began in 1984 with the GNU Project. See also [5513]open




   Node:freeware, Next:[5514]freeze, Previous:[5515]free software,

   Up:[5516]= F =


   freeware n.


   [common] Free software, often written by enthusiasts and distributed

   by users' groups, or via electronic mail, local bulletin boards,

   [5517]Usenet, or other electronic media. At one time, `freeware' was a

   trademark of Andrew Fluegelman, the author of the well-known MS-DOS

   comm program PC-TALK III. It wasn't enforced after his mysterious

   disappearance and presumed death in 1984. See [5518]shareware,




   Node:freeze, Next:[5520]fried, Previous:[5521]freeware, Up:[5522]= F =


   freeze v.


   To lock an evolving software distribution or document against changes

   so it can be released with some hope of stability. Carries the strong

   implication that the item in question will `unfreeze' at some future

   date. "OK, fix that bug and we'll freeze for release."


   There are more specific constructions on this term. A `feature

   freeze', for example, locks out modifications intended to introduce

   new features but still allows bugfixes and completion of existing

   features; a `code freeze' connotes no more changes at all. At Sun

   Microsystems and elsewhere, one may also hear references to `code

   slush' -- that is, an almost-but-not-quite frozen state.



   Node:fried, Next:[5523]frink, Previous:[5524]freeze, Up:[5525]= F =


   fried adj.


   1. [common] Non-working due to hardware failure; burnt out. Especially

   used of hardware brought down by a `power glitch' (see [5526]glitch),

   [5527]drop-outs, a short, or some other electrical event. (Sometimes

   this literally happens to electronic circuits! In particular,

   resistors can burn out and transformers can melt down, emitting

   noxious smoke -- see [5528]friode, [5529]SED and [5530]LER. However,

   this term is also used metaphorically.) Compare [5531]frotzed. 2.

   [common] Of people, exhausted. Said particularly of those who continue

   to work in such a state. Often used as an explanation or excuse.

   "Yeah, I know that fix destroyed the file system, but I was fried when

   I put it in." Esp. common in conjunction with `brain': "My brain is

   fried today, I'm very short on sleep."



   Node:frink, Next:[5532]friode, Previous:[5533]fried, Up:[5534]= F =


   frink /frink/ v.


   The unknown ur-verb, fill in your own meaning. Found esp. on the

   Usenet newsgroup, where it is said that the lemurs know

   what `frink' means, but they aren't telling. Compare [5535]gorets.



   Node:friode, Next:[5536]fritterware, Previous:[5537]frink, Up:[5538]=

   F =


   friode /fri:'ohd/ n.


   [TMRC] A reversible (that is, fused or blown) diode. Compare

   [5539]fried; see also [5540]SED, [5541]LER.



   Node:fritterware, Next:[5542]frob, Previous:[5543]friode, Up:[5544]= F



   fritterware n.


   An excess of capability that serves no productive end. The canonical

   example is font-diddling software on the Mac (see [5545]macdink); the

   term describes anything that eats huge amounts of time for quite

   marginal gains in function but seduces people into using it anyway.

   See also [5546]window shopping.



   Node:frob, Next:[5547]frobnicate, Previous:[5548]fritterware,

   Up:[5549]= F =


   frob /frob/ 1. n.


   [MIT; very common] The [5550]TMRC definition was "FROB = a protruding

   arm or trunnion"; by metaphoric extension, a `frob' is any random

   small thing; an object that you can comfortably hold in one hand;

   something you can frob (sense 2). See [5551]frobnitz. 2. vt.

   Abbreviated form of [5552]frobnicate. 3. [from the [5553]MUD world] A

   command on some MUDs that changes a player's experience level (this

   can be used to make wizards); also, to request [5554]wizard privileges

   on the `professional courtesy' grounds that one is a wizard elsewhere.

   The command is actually `frobnicate' but is universally abbreviated to

   the shorter form.



   Node:frobnicate, Next:[5555]frobnitz, Previous:[5556]frob, Up:[5557]=

   F =


   frobnicate /frob'ni-kayt/ vt.


   [Poss. derived from [5558]frobnitz, and usually abbreviated to

   [5559]frob, but `frobnicate' is recognized as the official full form.]

   To manipulate or adjust, to tweak. One frequently frobs bits or other

   2-state devices. Thus: "Please frob the light switch" (that is, flip

   it), but also "Stop frobbing that clasp; you'll break it". One also

   sees the construction `to frob a frob'. See [5560]tweak and



   Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a

   continuum. `Frob' connotes aimless manipulation; `twiddle' connotes

   gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting;

   `tweak' connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an

   oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably

   tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is

   probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a

   knob is fun, he's frobbing it. The variant `frobnosticate' has been

   recently reported.



   Node:frobnitz, Next:[5562]frog, Previous:[5563]frobnicate, Up:[5564]=

   F =


   frobnitz /frob'nits/, pl. `frobnitzem' /frob'nit-zm/ or `frobni'

   /frob'ni:/ n.


   [TMRC] An unspecified physical object, a widget. Also refers to

   electronic black boxes. This rare form is usually abbreviated to

   `frotz', or more commonly to [5565]frob. Also used are `frobnule'

   (/frob'n[y]ool/) and `frobule' (/frob'yool/). Starting perhaps in

   1979, `frobozz' /fr*-boz'/ (plural: `frobbotzim' /fr*-bot'zm/) has

   also become very popular, largely through its exposure as a name via

   [5566]Zork. These variants can also be applied to nonphysical objects,

   such as data structures.


   Pete Samson, compiler of the original [5567]TMRC lexicon, adds, "Under

   the TMRC [railroad] layout were many storage boxes, managed (in 1958)

   by David R. Sawyer. Several had fanciful designations written on them,

   such as `Frobnitz Coil Oil'. Perhaps DRS intended Frobnitz to be a

   proper name, but the name was quickly taken for the thing". This was

   almost certainly the origin of the term.



   Node:frog, Next:[5568]frogging, Previous:[5569]frobnitz, Up:[5570]= F



   frog alt. `phrog'


   1. interj. Term of disgust (we seem to have a lot of them). 2. Used as

   a name for just about anything. See [5571]foo. 3. n. Of things, a

   crock. 4. n. Of people, somewhere in between a turkey and a toad. 5.

   `froggy': adj. Similar to [5572]bagbiting, but milder. "This froggy

   program is taking forever to run!"



   Node:frogging, Next:[5573]front end, Previous:[5574]frog, Up:[5575]= F



   frogging [University of Waterloo] v.


   1. Partial corruption of a text file or input stream by some bug or

   consistent glitch, as opposed to random events like line noise or

   media failures. Might occur, for example, if one bit of each incoming

   character on a tty were stuck, so that some characters were correct

   and others were not. See [5576]terminak for a historical example and

   compare [5577]dread high-bit disease. 2. By extension, accidental

   display of text in a mode where the output device emits special

   symbols or mnemonics rather than conventional ASCII. This often

   happens, for example, when using a terminal or comm program on a

   device like an IBM PC with a special `high-half' character set and

   with the bit-parity assumption wrong. A hacker sufficiently familiar

   with ASCII bit patterns might be able to read the display anyway.



   Node:front end, Next:[5578]frotz, Previous:[5579]frogging, Up:[5580]=

   F =


   front end n.


   1. An intermediary computer that does set-up and filtering for another

   (usually more powerful but less friendly) machine (a `back end'). 2.

   What you're talking to when you have a conversation with someone who

   is making replies without paying attention. "Look at the dancing

   elephants!" "Uh-huh." "Do you know what I just said?" "Sorry, you were

   talking to the front end." 3. Software that provides an interface to

   another program `behind' it, which may not be as user-friendly.

   Probably from analogy with hardware front-ends (see sense 1) that

   interfaced with mainframes.



   Node:frotz, Next:[5581]frotzed, Previous:[5582]front end, Up:[5583]= F



   frotz /frots/


   1. n. See [5584]frobnitz. 2. `mumble frotz': An interjection of

   mildest disgust.



   Node:frotzed, Next:[5585]frowney, Previous:[5586]frotz, Up:[5587]= F =


   frotzed /frotst/ adj.


   [5588]down because of hardware problems. Compare [5589]fried. A

   machine that is merely frotzed may be fixable without replacing parts,

   but a fried machine is more seriously damaged.



   Node:frowney, Next:[5590]FRS, Previous:[5591]frotzed, Up:[5592]= F =


   frowney n.


   (alt. `frowney face') See [5593]emoticon.



   Node:FRS, Next:[5594]fry, Previous:[5595]frowney, Up:[5596]= F =


   FRS // n.,obs.


   Abbreviation for "Freely Redistributable Software" which entered

   general use on the Internet in 1995 after years of low-level confusion

   over what exactly to call software written to be passed around and

   shared (contending terms including [5597]freeware, [5598]shareware,

   and `sourceware' were never universally felt to be satisfactory for

   various subtle reasons). The first formal conference on freely

   redistributable software was held in Cambridge, Massachussetts, in

   February 1996 (sponsored by the Free Software Foundation). The

   conference organizers used the FRS abbreviation heavily in its calls

   for papers and other literature during 1995. The term was in steady

   though not common use until 1998 and the invention of [5599]open




   Node:fry, Next:[5600]fscking, Previous:[5601]FRS, Up:[5602]= F =




   1. vi. To fail. Said especially of smoke-producing hardware failures.

   More generally, to become non-working. Usage: never said of software,

   only of hardware and humans. See [5603]fried, [5604]magic smoke. 2.

   vt. To cause to fail; to [5605]roach, [5606]toast, or [5607]hose a

   piece of hardware. Never used of software or humans, but compare




   Node:fscking, Next:[5609]FSF, Previous:[5610]fry, Up:[5611]= F =


   fscking /fus'-king/ or /eff'-seek-ing/ adj.


   [Usenet; common] Fucking, in the expletive sense (it refers to the

   Unix filesystem-repair command fsck(1), of which it can be said that

   if you have to use it at all you are having a bad day). Originated on

   [5612]scary devil monastery and the newsgroups, but became

   much more widespread following the passage of [5613]CDA. Also

   occasionally seen in the variant "What the fsck?"



   Node:FSF, Next:[5614]FTP, Previous:[5615]fscking, Up:[5616]= F =


   FSF /F-S-F/ abbrev.


   Common abbreviation (both spoken and written) for the name of the Free

   Software Foundation, a nonprofit educational association formed to

   support the [5617]GNU project.



   Node:FTP, Next:[5618]-fu, Previous:[5619]FSF, Up:[5620]= F =


   FTP /F-T-P/, not /fit'ip/


   1. [techspeak] n. The File Transfer Protocol for transmitting files

   between systems on the Internet. 2. vt. To [5621]beam a file using the

   File Transfer Protocol. 3. Sometimes used as a generic even for file

   transfers not using [5622]FTP. "Lemme get a copy of "Wuthering

   Heights" ftp'd from uunet."



   Node:-fu, Next:[5623]FUBAR, Previous:[5624]FTP, Up:[5625]= F =




   [common; generalized from `kung-fu'] Combining form denoting expert

   practice of a skill. "That's going to take some serious code-fu."

   First sighted in connection with the GIMP's remote-scripting facility,

   script-fu, in 1998.



   Node:FUBAR, Next:[5626]fuck me harder, Previous:[5627]-fu, Up:[5628]=

   F =


   FUBAR n.


   The Failed UniBus Address Register in a VAX. A good example of how

   jargon can occasionally be snuck past the [5629]suits; see

   [5630]foobar, and [5631]foo for a fuller etymology.



   Node:fuck me harder, Next:[5632]FUD, Previous:[5633]FUBAR, Up:[5634]=

   F =


   fuck me harder excl.


   Sometimes uttered in response to egregious misbehavior, esp. in

   software, and esp. of misbehaviors which seem unfairly persistent (as

   though designed in by the imp of the perverse). Often theatrically

   elaborated: "Aiighhh! Fuck me with a piledriver and 16 feet of

   curare-tipped wrought-iron fence and no lubricants!" The phrase is

   sometimes heard abbreviated `FMH' in polite company.


   [This entry is an extreme example of the hackish habit of coining

   elaborate and evocative terms for lossage. Here we see a quite

   self-conscious parody of mainstream expletives that has become a

   running gag in part of the hacker culture; it illustrates the hackish

   tendency to turn any situation, even one of extreme frustration, into

   an intellectual game (the point being, in this case, to creatively

   produce a long-winded description of the most anatomically absurd

   mental image possible -- the short forms implicitly allude to all the

   ridiculous long forms ever spoken). Scatological language is actually

   relatively uncommon among hackers, and there was some controversy over

   whether this entry ought to be included at all. As it reflects a live

   usage recognizably peculiar to the hacker culture, we feel it is in

   the hackish spirit of truthfulness and opposition to all forms of

   censorship to record it here. --ESR & GLS]



   Node:FUD, Next:[5635]FUD wars, Previous:[5636]fuck me harder,

   Up:[5637]= F =


   FUD /fuhd/ n.


   Defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company:

   "FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill

   in the minds of potential customers who might be considering [Amdahl]

   products." The idea, of course, was to persuade them to go with safe

   IBM gear rather than with competitors' equipment. This implicit

   coercion was traditionally accomplished by promising that Good Things

   would happen to people who stuck with IBM, but Dark Shadows loomed

   over the future of competitors' equipment or software. See [5638]IBM.

   After 1990 the term FUD was associated increasingly frequently with

   [5639]Microsoft, and has become generalized to refer to any kind of

   disinformation used as a competitive weapon.



   Node:FUD wars, Next:[5640]fudge, Previous:[5641]FUD, Up:[5642]= F =


   FUD wars /fuhd worz/ n.


   [from [5643]FUD] Political posturing engaged in by hardware and

   software vendors ostensibly committed to standardization but actually

   willing to fragment the market to protect their own shares. The Unix

   International vs. OSF conflict about Unix standards was one

   outstanding example; Microsoft vs. Netscape vs. W3C about HTML

   standards is another.



   Node:fudge, Next:[5644]fudge factor, Previous:[5645]FUD wars,

   Up:[5646]= F =




   1. vt. To perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way,

   particularly with respect to the writing of a program. "I didn't feel

   like going through that pain and suffering, so I fudged it -- I'll fix

   it later." 2. n. The resulting code.



   Node:fudge factor, Next:[5647]fuel up, Previous:[5648]fudge,

   Up:[5649]= F =


   fudge factor n.


   [common] A value or parameter that is varied in an ad hoc way to

   produce the desired result. The terms `tolerance' and [5650]slop are

   also used, though these usually indicate a one-sided leeway, such as a

   buffer that is made larger than necessary because one isn't sure

   exactly how large it needs to be, and it is better to waste a little

   space than to lose completely for not having enough. A fudge factor,

   on the other hand, can often be tweaked in more than one direction. A

   good example is the `fuzz' typically allowed in floating-point

   calculations: two numbers being compared for equality must be allowed

   to differ by a small amount; if that amount is too small, a

   computation may never terminate, while if it is too large, results

   will be needlessly inaccurate. Fudge factors are frequently adjusted

   incorrectly by programmers who don't fully understand their import.

   See also [5651]coefficient of X.



   Node:fuel up, Next:[5652]Full Monty, Previous:[5653]fudge factor,

   Up:[5654]= F =


   fuel up vi.


   To eat or drink hurriedly in order to get back to hacking. "Food-p?"

   "Yeah, let's fuel up." "Time for a [5655]great-wall!" See also

   [5656]oriental food.



   Node:Full Monty, Next:[5657]fum, Previous:[5658]fuel up, Up:[5659]= F



   Full Monty n.


   See [5660]monty, sense 2.



   Node:fum, Next:[5661]functino, Previous:[5662]Full Monty, Up:[5663]= F



   fum n.


   [XEROX PARC] At PARC, often the third of the standard

   [5664]metasyntactic variables (after [5665]foo and [5666]bar).

   Competes with [5667]baz, which is more common outside PARC.



   Node:functino, Next:[5668]funky, Previous:[5669]fum, Up:[5670]= F =


   functino n.


   [uncommon, U.K.; originally a serendipitous typo in 1994] A pointer to

   a function in C and C++. By association with sub-atomic particles such

   as the neutrino, it accurately conveys an impression of smallness (one

   pointer is four bytes on most systems) and speed (hackers can and do

   use arrays of functinos to replace a switch() statement).



   Node:funky, Next:[5671]funny money, Previous:[5672]functino,

   Up:[5673]= F =


   funky adj.


   Said of something that functions, but in a slightly strange, klugey

   way. It does the job and would be difficult to change, so its obvious

   non-optimality is left alone. Often used to describe interfaces. The

   more bugs something has that nobody has bothered to fix because

   workarounds are easier, the funkier it is. [5674]TECO and UUCP are

   funky. The Intel i860's exception handling is extraordinarily funky.

   Most standards acquire funkiness as they age. "The new mailer is

   installed, but is still somewhat funky; if it bounces your mail for no

   reason, try resubmitting it." "This UART is pretty funky. The data

   ready line is active-high in interrupt mode and active-low in DMA




   Node:funny money, Next:[5675]furrfu, Previous:[5676]funky, Up:[5677]=

   F =


   funny money n.


   1. Notional `dollar' units of computing time and/or storage handed to

   students at the beginning of a computer course; also called `play

   money' or `purple money' (in implicit opposition to real or `green'

   money). In New Zealand and Germany the odd usage `paper money' has

   been recorded; in Germany, the particularly amusing synonym `transfer

   ruble' commemmorates the funny money used for trade between COMECON

   countries back when the Soviet Bloc still existed. When your funny

   money ran out, your account froze and you needed to go to a professor

   to get more. Fortunately, the plunging cost of timesharing cycles has

   made this less common. The amounts allocated were almost invariably

   too small, even for the non-hackers who wanted to slide by with

   minimum work. In extreme cases, the practice led to small-scale black

   markets in bootlegged computer accounts. 2. By extension, phantom

   money or quantity tickets of any kind used as a resource-allocation

   hack within a system. Antonym: `real money'.



   Node:furrfu, Next:[5678]fuzzball, Previous:[5679]funny money,

   Up:[5680]= F =


   furrfu excl.


   [Usenet; written, only rarely spoken] Written-only equivalent of

   "Sheesh!"; it is, in fact, "sheesh" modified by [5681]rot13. Evolved

   in mid-1992 as a response to notably silly postings repeating urban

   myths on the Usenet newsgroup alt.folklore.urban, after some posters

   complained that "Sheesh!" as a response to [5682]newbies was being

   overused. See also [5683]FOAF.



   Node:fuzzball, Next:[5684]G, Previous:[5685]furrfu, Up:[5686]= F =


   fuzzball n.


   [TCP/IP hackers] A DEC LSI-11 running a particular suite of homebrewed

   software written by Dave Mills and assorted co-conspirators, used in

   the early 1980s for Internet protocol testbedding and experimentation.

   These were used as NSFnet backbone sites in its early 56kb-line days;

   a few were still active on the Internet as late as mid-1993, doing odd

   jobs such as network time service.



   Node:= G =, Next:[5687]= H =, Previous:[5688]= F =, Up:[5689]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= G =

     * [5690]G:

     * [5691]g-file:

     * [5692]gabriel:

     * [5693]gag:

     * [5694]gang bang:

     * [5695]garbage collect:

     * [5696]garply:

     * [5697]gas:

     * [5698]gaseous:

     * [5699]Gates's Law:

     * [5700]gawble:

     * [5701]GC:

     * [5702]GCOS:

     * [5703]GECOS:

     * [5704]gedanken:

     * [5705]geef:

     * [5706]geek code:

     * [5707]geek out:

     * [5708]gen:

     * [5709]gender mender:

     * [5710]General Public Virus:

     * [5711]generate:

     * [5712]Genius From Mars Technique:

     * [5713]gensym:

     * [5714]Get a life!:

     * [5715]Get a real computer!:

     * [5716]GFR:

     * [5717]gib:

     * [5718]GIFs at 11:

     * [5719]gig:

     * [5720]giga-:

     * [5721]GIGO:

     * [5722]gilley:

     * [5723]gillion:

     * [5724]ginger:

     * [5725]GIPS:

     * [5726]glark:

     * [5727]glass:

     * [5728]glass tty:

     * [5729]glassfet:

     * [5730]glitch:

     * [5731]glob:

     * [5732]glork:

     * [5733]glue:

     * [5734]gnarly:

     * [5735]GNU:

     * [5736]gnubie:

     * [5737]GNUMACS:

     * [5738]go flatline:

     * [5739]go root:

     * [5740]go-faster stripes:

     * [5741]GoAT:

     * [5742]gobble:

     * [5743]Godwin's Law:

     * [5744]Godzillagram:

     * [5745]golden:

     * [5746]golf-ball printer:

     * [5747]gonk:

     * [5748]gonkulator:

     * [5749]gonzo:

     * [5750]Good Thing:

     * [5751]gopher:

     * [5752]gopher hole:

     * [5753]gorets:

     * [5754]gorilla arm:

     * [5755]gorp:

     * [5756]GOSMACS:

     * [5757]Gosperism:

     * [5758]gotcha:

     * [5759]GPL:

     * [5760]GPV:

     * [5761]grault:

     * [5762]gray goo:

     * [5763]Great Renaming:

     * [5764]Great Runes:

     * [5765]Great Worm:

     * [5766]great-wall:

     * [5767]Green Book:

     * [5768]green bytes:

     * [5769]green card:

     * [5770]green lightning:

     * [5771]green machine:

     * [5772]Green's Theorem:

     * [5773]greenbar:

     * [5774]grep:

     * [5775]gribble:

     * [5776]grilf:

     * [5777]grind:

     * [5778]grind crank:

     * [5779]gripenet:

     * [5780]gritch:

     * [5781]grok:

     * [5782]gronk:

     * [5783]gronk out:

     * [5784]gronked:

     * [5785]grovel:

     * [5786]grue:

     * [5787]grunge:

     * [5788]gubbish:

     * [5789]Guido:

     * [5790]guiltware:

     * [5791]gumby:

     * [5792]gun:

     * [5793]gunch:

     * [5794]gunpowder chicken:

     * [5795]gurfle:

     * [5796]guru:

     * [5797]guru meditation:

     * [5798]gweep:



   Node:G, Next:[5799]g-file, Previous:[5800]fuzzball, Up:[5801]= G =


   G pref.,suff.


   [SI] See [5802]quantifiers.



   Node:g-file, Next:[5803]gabriel, Previous:[5804]G, Up:[5805]= G =


   g-file n.


   [Commodore BBS culture] Any file that is written with the intention of

   being read by a human rather than a machine, such as the Jargon File,

   documentation, humor files, hacker lore, and technical materials.


   This term survives from the nearly forgotten Commodore 64 underground

   and BBS community. In the early 80s, C-Net had emerged as the most

   popular C64 BBS software for systems which encouraged messaging (as

   opposed to file transfer). There were three main options for files:

   Program files (p-files), which served the same function as `doors' in

   today's systems, UD files (the user upload/download section), and

   g-files. Anything that was meant to be read was included in g-files.



   Node:gabriel, Next:[5806]gag, Previous:[5807]g-file, Up:[5808]= G =


   gabriel /gay'bree-*l/ n.


   [for Dick Gabriel, SAIL LISP hacker and volleyball fanatic] An

   unnecessary (in the opinion of the opponent) stalling tactic, e.g.,

   tying one's shoelaces or combing one's hair repeatedly, asking the

   time, etc. Also used to refer to the perpetrator of such tactics.

   Also, `pulling a Gabriel', `Gabriel mode'.



   Node:gag, Next:[5809]gang bang, Previous:[5810]gabriel, Up:[5811]= G =


   gag vi.


   Equivalent to [5812]choke, but connotes more disgust. "Hey, this is

   FORTRAN code. No wonder the C compiler gagged." See also [5813]barf.



   Node:gang bang, Next:[5814]garbage collect, Previous:[5815]gag,

   Up:[5816]= G =


   gang bang n.


   The use of large numbers of loosely coupled programmers in an attempt

   to wedge a great many features into a product in a short time. Though

   there have been memorable gang bangs (e.g., that over-the-weekend

   assembler port mentioned in Steven Levy's "Hackers"), most are

   perpetrated by large companies trying to meet deadlines; the

   inevitable result is enormous buggy masses of code entirely lacking in

   [5817]orthogonality. When market-driven managers make a list of all

   the features the competition has and assign one programmer to

   implement each, the probability of maintaining a coherent (or even

   functional) design goes infinitesimal. See also [5818]firefighting,

   [5819]Mongolian Hordes technique, [5820]Conway's Law.



   Node:garbage collect, Next:[5821]garply, Previous:[5822]gang bang,

   Up:[5823]= G =


   garbage collect vi.


   (also `garbage collection', n.) See [5824]GC.



   Node:garply, Next:[5825]gas, Previous:[5826]garbage collect,

   Up:[5827]= G =


   garply /gar'plee/ n.


   [Stanford] Another metasyntactic variable (see [5828]foo); once

   popular among SAIL hackers.



   Node:gas, Next:[5829]gaseous, Previous:[5830]garply, Up:[5831]= G =




   [as in `gas chamber'] 1. interj. A term of disgust and hatred,

   implying that gas should be dispensed in generous quantities, thereby

   exterminating the source of irritation. "Some loser just reloaded the

   system for no reason! Gas!" 2. interj. A suggestion that someone or

   something ought to be flushed out of mercy. "The system's getting

   [5832]wedged every few minutes. Gas!" 3. vt. To [5833]flush (sense 1).

   "You should gas that old crufty software." 4. [IBM] n. Dead space in

   nonsequentially organized files that was occupied by data that has

   since been deleted; the compression operation that removes it is

   called `degassing' (by analogy, perhaps, with the use of the same term

   in vacuum technology). 5. [IBM] n. Empty space on a disk that has been

   clandestinely allocated against future need.



   Node:gaseous, Next:[5834]Gates's Law, Previous:[5835]gas, Up:[5836]= G



   gaseous adj.


   Deserving of being [5837]gassed. Disseminated by Geoff Goodfellow

   while at SRI; became particularly popular after the Moscone-Milk

   killings in San Francisco, when it was learned that the defendant Dan

   White (a politician who had supported Proposition 7) would get the gas

   chamber under Proposition 7 if convicted of first-degree murder (he

   was eventually convicted of manslaughter).



   Node:Gates's Law, Next:[5838]gawble, Previous:[5839]gaseous,

   Up:[5840]= G =


   Gates's Law


   "The speed of software halves every 18 months." This oft-cited law is

   an ironic comment on the tendency of software bloat to outpace the

   every-18-month doubling in hardware caopacity per dollar predicted by

   [5841]Moore's Law. The reference is to Bill Gates; Microsoft is widely

   considered among the worst if not the worst of the perpetrators of




   Node:gawble, Next:[5842]GC, Previous:[5843]Gates's Law, Up:[5844]= G =


   gawble /gaw'bl/ n.


   See [5845]chawmp.



   Node:GC, Next:[5846]GCOS, Previous:[5847]gawble, Up:[5848]= G =


   GC /G-C/


   [from LISP terminology; `Garbage Collect'] 1. vt. To clean up and

   throw away useless things. "I think I'll GC the top of my desk today."

   When said of files, this is equivalent to [5849]GFR. 2. vt. To

   recycle, reclaim, or put to another use. 3. n. An instantiation of the

   garbage collector process.


   `Garbage collection' is computer-science techspeak for a particular

   class of strategies for dynamically but transparently reallocating

   computer memory (i.e., without requiring explicit allocation and

   deallocation by higher-level software). One such strategy involves

   periodically scanning all the data in memory and determining what is

   no longer accessible; useless data items are then discarded so that

   the memory they occupy can be recycled and used for another purpose.

   Implementations of the LISP language usually use garbage collection.


   In jargon, the full phrase is sometimes heard but the [5850]abbrev GC

   is more frequently used because it is shorter. Note that there is an

   ambiguity in usage that has to be resolved by context: "I'm going to

   garbage-collect my desk" usually means to clean out the drawers, but

   it could also mean to throw away or recycle the desk itself.



   Node:GCOS, Next:[5851]GECOS, Previous:[5852]GC, Up:[5853]= G =


   GCOS /jee'kohs/ n.


   A [5854]quick-and-dirty [5855]clone of System/360 DOS that emerged

   from GE around 1970; originally called GECOS (the General Electric

   Comprehensive Operating System). Later kluged to support primitive

   timesharing and transaction processing. After the buyout of GE's

   computer division by Honeywell, the name was changed to General

   Comprehensive Operating System (GCOS). Other OS groups at Honeywell

   began referring to it as `God's Chosen Operating System', allegedly in

   reaction to the GCOS crowd's uninformed and snotty attitude about the

   superiority of their product. All this might be of zero interest,

   except for two facts: (1) The GCOS people won the political war, and

   this led in the orphaning and eventual death of Honeywell

   [5856]Multics, and (2) GECOS/GCOS left one permanent mark on Unix.

   Some early Unix systems at Bell Labs used GCOS machines for print

   spooling and various other services; the field added to /etc/passwd to

   carry GCOS ID information was called the `GECOS field' and survives

   today as the pw_gecos member used for the user's full name and other

   human-ID information. GCOS later played a major role in keeping

   Honeywell a dismal also-ran in the mainframe market, and was itself

   mostly ditched for Unix in the late 1980s when Honeywell began to

   retire its aging [5857]big iron designs.



   Node:GECOS, Next:[5858]gedanken, Previous:[5859]GCOS, Up:[5860]= G =


   GECOS /jee'kohs/ n.


   See [5861]GCOS.



   Node:gedanken, Next:[5862]geef, Previous:[5863]GECOS, Up:[5864]= G =


   gedanken /g*-dahn'kn/ adj.


   Ungrounded; impractical; not well-thought-out; untried; untested.


   `Gedanken' is a German word for `thought'. A thought experiment is one

   you carry out in your head. In physics, the term `gedanken experiment'

   is used to refer to an experiment that is impractical to carry out,

   but useful to consider because it can be reasoned about theoretically.

   (A classic gedanken experiment of relativity theory involves thinking

   about a man in an elevator accelerating through space.) Gedanken

   experiments are very useful in physics, but must be used with care.

   It's too easy to idealize away some important aspect of the real world

   in constructing the `apparatus'.


   Among hackers, accordingly, the word has a pejorative connotation. It

   is typically used of a project, especially one in artificial

   intelligence research, that is written up in grand detail (typically

   as a Ph.D. thesis) without ever being implemented to any great extent.

   Such a project is usually perpetrated by people who aren't very good

   hackers or find programming distasteful or are just in a hurry. A

   `gedanken thesis' is usually marked by an obvious lack of intuition

   about what is programmable and what is not, and about what does and

   does not constitute a clear specification of an algorithm. See also

   [5865]AI-complete, [5866]DWIM.



   Node:geef, Next:[5867]geek code, Previous:[5868]gedanken, Up:[5869]= G



   geef v.


   [ostensibly from `gefingerpoken'] vt. Syn. [5870]mung. See also




   Node:geek code, Next:[5872]geek out, Previous:[5873]geef, Up:[5874]= G



   geek code n.


   (also "Code of the Geeks"). A set of codes commonly used in [5875]sig

   blocks to broadcast the interests, skills, and aspirations of the

   poster. Features a G at the left margin followed by numerous letter

   codes, often suffixed with plusses or minuses. Because many net users

   are involved in computer science, the most common prefix is `GCS'. To

   see a copy of the current code, browse [5876]

   Here is a sample geek code (that of Robert Hayden, the code's

   inventor) from that page:


Version: 3.1

GED/J d-- s:++>: a- C++(++++)$ ULUO++ P+>+++ L++ !E---- W+(---) N+++

o+ K+++ w+(---) O- M+$>++ V-- PS++(+++)>$ PE++(+)>$ Y++ PGP++ t- 5+++

X++ R+++>$ tv+ b+ DI+++ D+++ G+++++>$ e++$>++++ h r-- y+**


   The geek code originated in 1993; it was inspired (according to the

   inventor) by previous "bear", "smurf" and "twink"

   style-and-sexual-preference codes from lesbian and gay

   [5877]newsgroups. It has in turn spawned imitators; there is now even

   a "Saturn geek code" for owners of the Saturn car. See also

   [5878]computer geek.



   Node:geek out, Next:[5879]gen, Previous:[5880]geek code, Up:[5881]= G



   geek out vi.


   To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context,

   for example at parties held near computer equipment. Especially used

   when you need to do or say something highly technical and don't have

   time to explain: "Pardon me while I geek out for a moment." See

   [5882]computer geek; see also [5883]propeller head.



   Node:gen, Next:[5884]gender mender, Previous:[5885]geek out,

   Up:[5886]= G =


   gen /jen/ n.,v.


   Short for [5887]generate, used frequently in both spoken and written




   Node:gender mender, Next:[5888]General Public Virus,

   Previous:[5889]gen, Up:[5890]= G =


   gender mender n.


   [common] A cable connector shell with either two male or two female

   connectors on it, used to correct the mismatches that result when some

   [5891]loser didn't understand the RS232C specification and the

   distinction between DTE and DCE. Used esp. for RS-232C parts in either

   the original D-25 or the IBM PC's bogus D-9 format. Also called

   `gender bender', `gender blender', `sex changer', and even `homosexual

   adapter;' however, there appears to be some confusion as to whether a

   `male homosexual adapter' has pins on both sides (is doubly male) or

   sockets on both sides (connects two males).



   Node:General Public Virus, Next:[5892]generate, Previous:[5893]gender

   mender, Up:[5894]= G =


   General Public Virus n.


   Pejorative name for some versions of the [5895]GNU project

   [5896]copyleft or General Public License (GPL), which requires that

   any tools or [5897]apps incorporating copylefted code must be

   source-distributed on the same anti-proprietary terms as GNU stuff.

   Thus it is alleged that the copyleft `infects' software generated with

   GNU tools, which may in turn infect other software that reuses any of

   its code. The Free Software Foundation's official position as of

   January 1991 is that copyright law limits the scope of the GPL to

   "programs textually incorporating significant amounts of GNU code",

   and that the `infection' is not passed on to third parties unless

   actual GNU source is transmitted. Nevertheless, widespread suspicion

   that the [5898]copyleft language is `boobytrapped' has caused many

   developers to avoid using GNU tools and the GPL. Changes in the

   language of the version 2.0 GPL did not eliminate this problem.



   Node:generate, Next:[5899]Genius From Mars Technique,

   Previous:[5900]General Public Virus, Up:[5901]= G =


   generate vt.


   To produce something according to an algorithm or program or set of

   rules, or as a (possibly unintended) side effect of the execution of

   an algorithm or program. The opposite of [5902]parse. This term

   retains its mechanistic connotations (though often humorously) when

   used of human behavior. "The guy is rational most of the time, but

   mention nuclear energy around him and he'll generate [5903]infinite




   Node:Genius From Mars Technique, Next:[5904]gensym,

   Previous:[5905]generate, Up:[5906]= G =


   Genius From Mars Technique n.


   [TMRC] A visionary quality which enables one to ignore the standard

   approach and come up with a totally unexpected new algorithm. An

   attack on a problem from an offbeat angle that no one has ever thought

   of before, but that in retrospect makes total sense. Compare

   [5907]grok, [5908]zen.



   Node:gensym, Next:[5909]Get a life!, Previous:[5910]Genius From Mars

   Technique, Up:[5911]= G =


   gensym /jen'sim/


   [from MacLISP for `generated symbol'] 1. v. To invent a new name for

   something temporary, in such a way that the name is almost certainly

   not in conflict with one already in use. 2. n. The resulting name. The

   canonical form of a gensym is `Gnnnn' where nnnn represents a number;

   any LISP hacker would recognize G0093 (for example) as a gensym. 3. A

   freshly generated data structure with a gensymmed name. Gensymmed

   names are useful for storing or uniquely identifying crufties (see




   Node:Get a life!, Next:[5913]Get a real computer!,

   Previous:[5914]gensym, Up:[5915]= G =


   Get a life! imp.


   Hacker-standard way of suggesting that the person to whom it is

   directed has succumbed to terminal geekdom (see [5916]computer geek).

   Often heard on [5917]Usenet, esp. as a way of suggesting that the

   target is taking some obscure issue of [5918]theology too seriously.

   This exhortation was popularized by William Shatner on a 1987

   "Saturday Night Live" episode in a speech that ended "Get a life!",

   but some respondents believe it to have been in use before then. It

   was certainly in wide use among hackers for years before achieving

   mainstream currency via the sitcom "Get A Life" in 1990.



   Node:Get a real computer!, Next:[5919]GFR, Previous:[5920]Get a life!,

   Up:[5921]= G =


   Get a real computer! imp.


   Typical hacker response to news that somebody is having trouble

   getting work done on a system that (a) is single-tasking, (b) has no

   hard disk, or (c) has an address space smaller than 16 megabytes. This

   is as of early 1996; note that the threshold for `real computer' rises

   with time. See [5922]bitty box and [5923]toy.



   Node:GFR, Next:[5924]gib, Previous:[5925]Get a real computer!,

   Up:[5926]= G =


   GFR /G-F-R/ vt.


   [ITS: from `Grim File Reaper', an ITS and LISP Machine utility] To

   remove a file or files according to some program-automated or

   semi-automatic manual procedure, especially one designed to reclaim

   mass storage space or reduce name-space clutter (the original GFR

   actually moved files to tape). Often generalized to pieces of data

   below file level. "I used to have his phone number, but I guess I

   [5927]GFRed it." See also [5928]prowler, [5929]reaper. Compare

   [5930]GC, which discards only provably worthless stuff.



   Node:gib, Next:[5931]GIFs at 11, Previous:[5932]GFR, Up:[5933]= G =


   gib /jib/


   1. vi. To destroy utterly. Like [5934]frag, but much more violent and

   final. "There's no trace left. You definitely gibbed that bug". 2. n.

   Remnants after total obliteration.


   Originated first by id software in the game Quake. It's short for

   giblets (thus pronounced "jib"), and referred to the bloody remains of

   slain opponents. Eventually the word was verbed, and leaked into

   general usage afterward.



   Node:GIFs at 11, Next:[5935]gig, Previous:[5936]gib, Up:[5937]= G =


   GIFs at 11


   [Fidonet] Fidonet alternative to [5938]film at 11, especially in

   echoes (Fidonet topic areas) where uuencoded GIFs are permitted. Other

   formats, especially JPEG and MPEG, may be referenced instead.



   Node:gig, Next:[5939]giga-, Previous:[5940]GIFs at 11, Up:[5941]= G =


   gig /jig/ or /gig/ n.


   [SI] See [5942]quantifiers.



   Node:giga-, Next:[5943]GIGO, Previous:[5944]gig, Up:[5945]= G =


   giga- /ji'ga/ or /gi'ga/ pref.


   [SI] See [5946]quantifiers.



   Node:GIGO, Next:[5947]gilley, Previous:[5948]giga-, Up:[5949]= G =


   GIGO /gi:'goh/ [acronym]


   1. `Garbage In, Garbage Out' -- usually said in response to

   [5950]lusers who complain that a program didn't "do the right thing"

   when given imperfect input or otherwise mistreated in some way. Also

   commonly used to describe failures in human decision making due to

   faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data. 2. `Garbage In, Gospel Out':

   this more recent expansion is a sardonic comment on the tendency human

   beings have to put excessive trust in `computerized' data.



   Node:gilley, Next:[5951]gillion, Previous:[5952]GIGO, Up:[5953]= G =


   gilley n.


   [Usenet] The unit of analogical [5954]bogosity. According to its

   originator, the standard for one gilley was "the act of

   bogotoficiously comparing the shutting down of 1000 machines for a day

   with the killing of one person". The milligilley has been found to

   suffice for most normal conversational exchanges.



   Node:gillion, Next:[5955]ginger, Previous:[5956]gilley, Up:[5957]= G =


   gillion /gil'y*n/ or /jil'y*n/ n.


   [formed from [5958]giga- by analogy with mega/million and

   tera/trillion] 10^9. Same as an American billion or a British

   `milliard'. How one pronounces this depends on whether one speaks

   [5959]giga- with a hard or soft `g'.



   Node:ginger, Next:[5960]GIPS, Previous:[5961]gillion, Up:[5962]= G =


   ginger n.


   See [5963]saga.



   Node:GIPS, Next:[5964]glark, Previous:[5965]ginger, Up:[5966]= G =


   GIPS /gips/ or /jips/ n.


   [analogy with [5967]MIPS] Giga-Instructions per Second (also possibly

   `Gillions of Instructions per Second'; see [5968]gillion). In 1991,

   this is used of only a handful of highly parallel machines, but this

   is expected to change. Compare [5969]KIPS.



   Node:glark, Next:[5970]glass, Previous:[5971]GIPS, Up:[5972]= G =


   glark /glark/ vt.


   To figure something out from context. "The System III manuals are

   pretty poor, but you can generally glark the meaning from context."

   Interestingly, the word was originally `glork'; the context was "This

   gubblick contains many nonsklarkish English flutzpahs, but the overall

   pluggandisp can be glorked [sic] from context" (David Moser, quoted by

   Douglas Hofstadter in his "Metamagical Themas" column in the January

   1981 "Scientific American"). It is conjectured that hacker usage

   mutated the verb to `glark' because [5973]glork was already an

   established jargon term (some hackers do report using the original

   term). Compare [5974]grok, [5975]zen.



   Node:glass, Next:[5976]glass tty, Previous:[5977]glark, Up:[5978]= G =


   glass n.


   [IBM] Synonym for [5979]silicon.



   Node:glass tty, Next:[5980]glassfet, Previous:[5981]glass, Up:[5982]=

   G =


   glass tty /glas T-T-Y/ or /glas ti'tee/ n.


   A terminal that has a display screen but which, because of hardware or

   software limitations, behaves like a teletype or some other printing

   terminal, thereby combining the disadvantages of both: like a printing

   terminal, it can't do fancy display hacks, and like a display

   terminal, it doesn't produce hard copy. An example is the early `dumb'

   version of Lear-Siegler ADM 3 (without cursor control). See

   [5983]tube, [5984]tty; compare [5985]dumb terminal, [5986]smart

   terminal. See "[5987]TV Typewriters" (Appendix A) for an interesting

   true story about a glass tty.



   Node:glassfet, Next:[5988]glitch, Previous:[5989]glass tty, Up:[5990]=

   G =


   glassfet /glas'fet/ n.


   [by analogy with MOSFET, the acronym for `Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor

   Field-Effect Transistor'] Syn. [5991]firebottle, a humorous way to

   refer to a vacuum tube.



   Node:glitch, Next:[5992]glob, Previous:[5993]glassfet, Up:[5994]= G =


   glitch /glich/


   [very common; from German `glitschig' to slip, via Yiddish `glitshen',

   to slide or skid] 1. n. A sudden interruption in electric service,

   sanity, continuity, or program function. Sometimes recoverable. An

   interruption in electric service is specifically called a `power

   glitch' (also [5995]power hit), of grave concern because it usually

   crashes all the computers. In jargon, though, a hacker who got to the

   middle of a sentence and then forgot how he or she intended to

   complete it might say, "Sorry, I just glitched". 2. vi. To commit a

   glitch. See [5996]gritch. 3. vt. [Stanford] To scroll a display

   screen, esp. several lines at a time. [5997]WAITS terminals used to do

   this in order to avoid continuous scrolling, which is distracting to

   the eye. 4. obs. Same as [5998]magic cookie, sense 2.


   All these uses of `glitch' derive from the specific technical meaning

   the term has in the electronic hardware world, where it is now

   techspeak. A glitch can occur when the inputs of a circuit change, and

   the outputs change to some [5999]random value for some very brief time

   before they settle down to the correct value. If another circuit

   inspects the output at just the wrong time, reading the random value,

   the results can be very wrong and very hard to debug (a glitch is one

   of many causes of electronic [6000]heisenbugs).



   Node:glob, Next:[6001]glork, Previous:[6002]glitch, Up:[6003]= G =


   glob /glob/, not /glohb/ v.,n.


   [Unix; common] To expand special characters in a wildcarded name, or

   the act of so doing (the action is also called `globbing'). The Unix

   conventions for filename wildcarding have become sufficiently

   pervasive that many hackers use some of them in written English,

   especially in email or news on technical topics. Those commonly

   encountered include the following:



          wildcard for any string (see also [6004]UN*X)



          wildcard for any single character (generally read this way only

          at the beginning or in the middle of a word)



          delimits a wildcard matching any of the enclosed characters



          alternation of comma-separated alternatives; thus,

          `foo{baz,qux}' would be read as `foobaz' or `fooqux'


   Some examples: "He said his name was [KC]arl" (expresses ambiguity).

   "I don't read talk.politics.*" (any of the talk.politics subgroups on

   [6005]Usenet). Other examples are given under the entry for [6006]X.

   Note that glob patterns are similar, but not identical, to those used

   in [6007]regexps.


   Historical note: The jargon usage derives from glob, the name of a

   subprogram that expanded wildcards in archaic pre-Bourne versions of

   the Unix shell.



   Node:glork, Next:[6008]glue, Previous:[6009]glob, Up:[6010]= G =


   glork /glork/


   1. interj. Term of mild surprise, usually tinged with outrage, as when

   one attempts to save the results of two hours of editing and finds

   that the system has just crashed. 2. Used as a name for just about

   anything. See [6011]foo. 3. vt. Similar to [6012]glitch, but usually

   used reflexively. "My program just glorked itself." 4. Syn. for

   [6013]glark, which see.



   Node:glue, Next:[6014]gnarly, Previous:[6015]glork, Up:[6016]= G =


   glue n.


   Generic term for any interface logic or protocol that connects two

   component blocks. For example, [6017]Blue Glue is IBM's SNA protocol,

   and hardware designers call anything used to connect large VLSI's or

   circuit blocks `glue logic'.



   Node:gnarly, Next:[6018]GNU, Previous:[6019]glue, Up:[6020]= G =


   gnarly /nar'lee/ adj.


   Both [6021]obscure and [6022]hairy (sense 1). "[6023]Yow! -- the tuned

   assembler implementation of BitBlt is really gnarly!" From a similar

   but less specific usage in surfer slang.



   Node:GNU, Next:[6024]gnubie, Previous:[6025]gnarly, Up:[6026]= G =


   GNU /gnoo/, not /noo/


   1. [acronym: `GNU's Not Unix!', see [6027]recursive acronym] A

   Unix-workalike development effort of the Free Software Foundation

   headed by Richard Stallman [6028]<>. GNU EMACS and the GNU

   C compiler, two tools designed for this project, have become very

   popular in hackerdom and elsewhere. The GNU project was designed

   partly to proselytize for RMS's position that information is community

   property and all software source should be shared. One of its slogans

   is "Help stamp out software hoarding!" Though this remains

   controversial (because it implicitly denies any right of designers to

   own, assign, and sell the results of their labors), many hackers who

   disagree with RMS have nevertheless cooperated to produce large

   amounts of high-quality software for free redistribution under the

   Free Software Foundation's imprimatur. The GNU project has a web page

   at [6029] See [6030]EMACS, [6031]copyleft,

   [6032]General Public Virus, [6033]Linux. 2. Noted Unix hacker John

   Gilmore [6034]<>, founder of Usenet's anarchic alt.*




   Node:gnubie, Next:[6035]GNUMACS, Previous:[6036]GNU, Up:[6037]= G =


   gnubie /noo'bee/ n.


   Written-only variant of [6038]newbie in common use on IRC channels,

   which implies specifically someone who is new to the Linux/open

   source/free software world.



   Node:GNUMACS, Next:[6039]go flatline, Previous:[6040]gnubie,

   Up:[6041]= G =


   GNUMACS /gnoo'maks/ n.


   [contraction of `GNU EMACS'] Often-heard abbreviated name for the

   [6042]GNU project's flagship tool, [6043]EMACS. Used esp. in contrast

   with GOSMACS.



   Node:go flatline, Next:[6044]go root, Previous:[6045]GNUMACS,

   Up:[6046]= G =


   go flatline v.


   [from cyberpunk SF, refers to flattening of EEG traces upon

   brain-death] (also adjectival `flatlined'). 1. To [6047]die,

   terminate, or fail, esp. irreversibly. In hacker parlance, this is

   used of machines only, human death being considered somewhat too

   serious a matter to employ jargon-jokes about. 2. To go completely

   quiescent; said of machines undergoing controlled shutdown. "You can

   suffer file damage if you shut down Unix but power off before the

   system has gone flatline." 3. Of a video tube, to fail by losing

   vertical scan, so all one sees is a bright horizontal line bisecting

   the screen.



   Node:go root, Next:[6048]go-faster stripes, Previous:[6049]go

   flatline, Up:[6050]= G =


   go root vi.


   [Unix; common] To temporarily enter [6051]root mode in order to

   perform a privileged operation. This use is deprecated in Australia,

   where v. `root' is a synonym for "fuck".



   Node:go-faster stripes, Next:[6052]GoAT, Previous:[6053]go root,

   Up:[6054]= G =


   go-faster stripes n.


   [UK] Syn. [6055]chrome. Mainstream in some parts of UK.



   Node:GoAT, Next:[6056]gobble, Previous:[6057]go-faster stripes,

   Up:[6058]= G =


   GoAT //


   [Usenet] Abbreviation: "Go Away, Troll". See [6059]troll.



   Node:gobble, Next:[6060]Godwin's Law, Previous:[6061]GoAT, Up:[6062]=

   G =


   gobble vt.


   1. To consume, usu. used with `up'. "The output spy gobbles characters

   out of a [6063]tty output buffer." 2. To obtain, usu. used with

   `down'. "I guess I'll gobble down a copy of the documentation

   tomorrow." See also [6064]snarf.



   Node:Godwin's Law, Next:[6065]Godzillagram, Previous:[6066]gobble,

   Up:[6067]= G =


   Godwin's Law prov.


   [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a

   comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a

   tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over,

   and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever

   argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the

   existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However

   there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional

   triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending

   effects will be unsuccessful.



   Node:Godzillagram, Next:[6068]golden, Previous:[6069]Godwin's Law,

   Up:[6070]= G =


   Godzillagram /god-zil'*-gram/ n.


   [from Japan's national hero] 1. A network packet that in theory is a

   broadcast to every machine in the universe. The typical case is an IP

   datagram whose destination IP address is [].

   Fortunately, few gateways are foolish enough to attempt to implement

   this case! 2. A network packet of maximum size. An IP Godzillagram has

   65,536 octets. Compare [6071]super source quench, [6072]Christmas tree

   packet, [6073]martian.



   Node:golden, Next:[6074]golf-ball printer,

   Previous:[6075]Godzillagram, Up:[6076]= G =


   golden adj.


   [prob. from folklore's `golden egg'] When used to describe a magnetic

   medium (e.g., `golden disk', `golden tape'), describes one containing

   a tested, up-to-spec, ready-to-ship software version. Compare




   Node:golf-ball printer, Next:[6078]gonk, Previous:[6079]golden,

   Up:[6080]= G =


   golf-ball printer n. obs.


   The IBM 2741, a slow but letter-quality printing device and terminal

   based on the IBM Selectric typewriter. The `golf ball' was a little

   spherical frob bearing reversed embossed images of 88 different

   characters arranged on four parallels of latitude; one could change

   the font by swapping in a different golf ball. The print element spun

   and jerked alarmingly in action and when in motion was sometimes

   described as an `infuriated golf ball'. This was the technology that

   enabled APL to use a non-EBCDIC, non-ASCII, and in fact completely

   non-standard character set. This put it 10 years ahead of its time --

   where it stayed, firmly rooted, for the next 20, until character

   displays gave way to programmable bit-mapped devices with the

   flexibility to support other character sets.



   Node:gonk, Next:[6081]gonkulator, Previous:[6082]golf-ball printer,

   Up:[6083]= G =


   gonk /gonk/ vi.,n.


   1. To prevaricate or to embellish the truth beyond any reasonable

   recognition. In German the term is (mythically) `gonken'; in Spanish

   the verb becomes `gonkar'. "You're gonking me. That story you just

   told me is a bunch of gonk." In German, for example, "Du gonkst mich"

   (You're pulling my leg). See also [6084]gonkulator. 2. [British] To

   grab some sleep at an odd time; compare [6085]gronk out.



   Node:gonkulator, Next:[6086]gonzo, Previous:[6087]gonk, Up:[6088]= G =


   gonkulator /gon'kyoo-lay-tr/ n.


   [common; from the 1960s "Hogan's Heroes" TV series] A pretentious

   piece of equipment that actually serves no useful purpose. Usually

   used to describe one's least favorite piece of computer hardware. See




   Node:gonzo, Next:[6090]Good Thing, Previous:[6091]gonkulator,

   Up:[6092]= G =


   gonzo /gon'zoh/ adj.


   [from Hunter S. Thompson] 1. With total commitment, total

   concentration, and a mad sort of panache. (Thompson's original sense.)

   2. More loosely: Overwhelming; outrageous; over the top; very large,

   esp. used of collections of source code, source files, or individual

   functions. Has some of the connotations of [6093]moby and [6094]hairy,

   but without the implication of obscurity or complexity.



   Node:Good Thing, Next:[6095]gopher, Previous:[6096]gonzo, Up:[6097]= G



   Good Thing n.,adj.


   [very common; often capitalized; always pronounced as if capitalized.]

   1. Self-evidently wonderful to anyone in a position to notice: "A

   language that manages dynamic memory automatically for you is a Good

   Thing." 2. Something that can't possibly have any ill side-effects and

   may save considerable grief later: "Removing the self-modifying code

   from that shared library would be a Good Thing." 3. When said of

   software tools or libraries, as in "YACC is a Good Thing",

   specifically connotes that the thing has drastically reduced a

   programmer's work load. Oppose [6098]Bad Thing.



   Node:gopher, Next:[6099]gopher hole, Previous:[6100]Good Thing,

   Up:[6101]= G =


   gopher n.


   A type of Internet service first floated around 1991 and obsolesced

   around 1995 by the World Wide Web. Gopher presents a menuing interface

   to a tree or graph of links; the links can be to documents, runnable

   programs, or other gopher menus arbitrarily far across the net.


   Some claim that the gopher software, which was originally developed at

   the University of Minnesota, was named after the Minnesota Gophers (a

   sports team). Others claim the word derives from American slang

   `gofer' (from "go for", dialectal "go fer"), one whose job is to run

   and fetch things. Finally, observe that gophers dig long tunnels, and

   the idea of tunneling through the net to find information was a

   defining metaphor for the developers. Probably all three things were

   true, but with the first two coming first and the gopher-tunnel

   metaphor serendipitously adding flavor and impetus to the project as

   it developed out of its concept stage.



   Node:gopher hole, Next:[6102]gorets, Previous:[6103]gopher, Up:[6104]=

   G =


   gopher hole n.


   1. Any access to a [6105]gopher. 2. [Amateur Packet Radio] The

   terrestrial analog of a [6106]wormhole (sense 2), from which this term

   was coined. A gopher hole links two amateur packet relays through some

   non-ham radio medium.



   Node:gorets, Next:[6107]gorilla arm, Previous:[6108]gopher hole,

   Up:[6109]= G =


   gorets /gor'ets/ n.


   The unknown ur-noun, fill in your own meaning. Found esp. on the

   Usenet newsgroup alt.gorets, which seems to be a running contest to

   redefine the word by implication in the funniest and most peculiar

   way, with the understanding that no definition is ever final. [A

   correspondent from the Former Soviet Union informs me that `gorets' is

   Russian for `mountain dweller'. Another from France informs me that

   `goret' is archaic French for a young pig --ESR] Compare [6110]frink.



   Node:gorilla arm, Next:[6111]gorp, Previous:[6112]gorets, Up:[6113]= G



   gorilla arm n.


   The side-effect that destroyed touch-screens as a mainstream input

   technology despite a promising start in the early 1980s. It seems the

   designers of all those [6114]spiffy touch-menu systems failed to

   notice that humans aren't designed to hold their arms in front of

   their faces making small motions. After more than a very few

   selections, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and oversized -- the

   operator looks like a gorilla while using the touch screen and feels

   like one afterwards. This is now considered a classic cautionary tale

   to human-factors designers; "Remember the gorilla arm!" is shorthand

   for "How is this going to fly in real use?".



   Node:gorp, Next:[6115]GOSMACS, Previous:[6116]gorilla arm, Up:[6117]=

   G =


   gorp /gorp/ n.


   [CMU: perhaps from the canonical hiker's food, Good Old Raisins and

   Peanuts] Another [6118]metasyntactic variable, like [6119]foo and




   Node:GOSMACS, Next:[6121]Gosperism, Previous:[6122]gorp, Up:[6123]= G



   GOSMACS /goz'maks/ n.


   [contraction of `Gosling EMACS'] The first [6124]EMACS-in-C

   implementation, predating but now largely eclipsed by [6125]GNUMACS.

   Originally freeware; a commercial version was modestly popular as

   `UniPress EMACS' during the 1980s. The author, James Gosling, went on

   to invent [6126]NeWS and the programming language Java; the latter

   earned him [6127]demigod status.



   Node:Gosperism, Next:[6128]gotcha, Previous:[6129]GOSMACS, Up:[6130]=

   G =


   Gosperism /gos'p*r-izm/ n.


   A hack, invention, or saying due to [6131]elder days arch-hacker R.

   William (Bill) Gosper. This notion merits its own term because there

   are so many of them. Many of the entries in [6132]HAKMEM are

   Gosperisms; see also [6133]life.



   Node:gotcha, Next:[6134]GPL, Previous:[6135]Gosperism, Up:[6136]= G =


   gotcha n.


   A [6137]misfeature of a system, especially a programming language or

   environment, that tends to breed bugs or mistakes because it both

   enticingly easy to invoke and completely unexpected and/or

   unreasonable in its outcome. For example, a classic gotcha in [6138]C

   is the fact that if (a=b) {code;} is syntactically valid and sometimes

   even correct. It puts the value of b into a and then executes code if

   a is non-zero. What the programmer probably meant was if (a==b)

   {code;}, which executes code if a and b are equal.



   Node:GPL, Next:[6139]GPV, Previous:[6140]gotcha, Up:[6141]= G =


   GPL /G-P-L/ n.


   Abbreviation for `General Public License' in widespread use; see

   [6142]copyleft, [6143]General Public Virus. Often mis-expanded as `GNU

   Public License'.



   Node:GPV, Next:[6144]grault, Previous:[6145]GPL, Up:[6146]= G =


   GPV /G-P-V/ n.


   Abbrev. for [6147]General Public Virus in widespread use.



   Node:grault, Next:[6148]gray goo, Previous:[6149]GPV, Up:[6150]= G =


   grault /grawlt/ n.


   Yet another [6151]metasyntactic variable, invented by Mike Gallaher

   and propagated by the [6152]GOSMACS documentation. See [6153]corge.



   Node:gray goo, Next:[6154]Great Renaming, Previous:[6155]grault,

   Up:[6156]= G =


   gray goo n.


   A hypothetical substance composed of [6157]sagans of sub-micron-sized

   self-replicating robots programmed to make copies of themselves out of

   whatever is available. The image that goes with the term is one of the

   entire biosphere of Earth being eventually converted to robot goo.

   This is the simplest of the [6158]nanotechnology disaster scenarios,

   easily refuted by arguments from energy requirements and elemental

   abundances. Compare [6159]blue goo.



   Node:Great Renaming, Next:[6160]Great Runes, Previous:[6161]gray goo,

   Up:[6162]= G =


   Great Renaming n.


   The [6163]flag day in 1987 on which all of the non-local groups on the

   [6164]Usenet had their names changed from the net.- format to the

   current multiple-hierarchies scheme. Used esp. in discussing the

   history of newsgroup names. "The oldest sources group is

   comp.sources.misc; before the Great Renaming, it was net.sources."

   There is a [6165]Great Renaming FAQ on the Web.



   Node:Great Runes, Next:[6166]Great Worm, Previous:[6167]Great

   Renaming, Up:[6168]= G =


   Great Runes n.


   Uppercase-only text or display messages. Some archaic operating

   systems still emit these. See also [6169]runes, [6170]smash case,

   [6171]fold case.


   There is a widespread legend (repeated by earlier versions of this

   entry, though tagged as folklore) that the uppercase-only support of

   various old character codes and I/O equipment was chosen by a

   religious person in a position of power at the Teletype Company

   because supporting both upper and lower cases was too expensive and

   supporting lower case only would have made it impossible to spell

   `God' correctly. Not true; the upper-case interpretation of

   teleprinter codes was well established by 1870, long before Teletype

   was even founded.



   Node:Great Worm, Next:[6172]great-wall, Previous:[6173]Great Runes,

   Up:[6174]= G =


   Great Worm n.


   The 1988 Internet [6175]worm perpetrated by [6176]RTM. This is a play

   on Tolkien (compare [6177]elvish, [6178]elder days). In the fantasy

   history of his Middle Earth books, there were dragons powerful enough

   to lay waste to entire regions; two of these (Scatha and Glaurung)

   were known as "the Great Worms". This usage expresses the connotation

   that the RTM crack was a sort of devastating watershed event in hacker

   history; certainly it did more to make non-hackers nervous about the

   Internet than anything before or since.



   Node:great-wall, Next:[6179]Green Book, Previous:[6180]Great Worm,

   Up:[6181]= G =


   great-wall vi.,n.


   [from SF fandom] A mass expedition to an oriental restaurant, esp. one

   where food is served family-style and shared. There is a common

   heuristic about the amount of food to order, expressed as "Get N - 1

   entrees"; the value of N, which is the number of people in the group,

   can be inferred from context (see [6182]N). See [6183]oriental food,

   [6184]ravs, [6185]stir-fried random.



   Node:Green Book, Next:[6186]green bytes, Previous:[6187]great-wall,

   Up:[6188]= G =


   Green Book n.


   1. One of the three standard [6189]PostScript references: "PostScript

   Language Program Design", bylined `Adobe Systems' (Addison-Wesley,

   1988; QA76.73.P67P66 ISBN 0-201-14396-8); see also [6190]Red Book,

   [6191]Blue Book, and the [6192]White Book (sense 2). 2. Informal name

   for one of the three standard references on SmallTalk: "Smalltalk-80:

   Bits of History, Words of Advice", by Glenn Krasner (Addison-Wesley,

   1983; QA76.8.S635S58; ISBN 0-201-11669-3) (this, too, is associated

   with blue and red books). 3. The "X/Open Compatibility Guide", which

   defines an international standard [6193]Unix environment that is a

   proper superset of POSIX/SVID; also includes descriptions of a

   standard utility toolkit, systems administrations features, and the

   like. This grimoire is taken with particular seriousness in Europe.

   See [6194]Purple Book. 4. The IEEE 1003.1 POSIX Operating Systems

   Interface standard has been dubbed "The Ugly Green Book". 5. Any of

   the 1992 standards issued by the CCITT's tenth plenary assembly. These

   include, among other things, the X.400 email standard and the Group 1

   through 4 fax standards. See also [6195]book titles.



   Node:green bytes, Next:[6196]green card, Previous:[6197]Green Book,

   Up:[6198]= G =


   green bytes n.


   (also `green words') 1. Meta-information embedded in a file, such as

   the length of the file or its name; as opposed to keeping such

   information in a separate description file or record. The term comes

   from an IBM user's group meeting (ca. 1962) at which these two

   approaches were being debated and the diagram of the file on the

   blackboard had the `green bytes' drawn in green. 2. By extension, the

   non-data bits in any self-describing format. "A GIF file contains,

   among other things, green bytes describing the packing method for the

   image." Compare [6199]out-of-band, [6200]zigamorph, [6201]fence (sense




   Node:green card, Next:[6202]green lightning, Previous:[6203]green

   bytes, Up:[6204]= G =


   green card n.


   [after the "IBM System/360 Reference Data" card] A summary of an

   assembly language, even if the color is not green and not a card. Less

   frequently used now because of the decrease in the use of assembly

   language. "I'll go get my green card so I can check the addressing

   mode for that instruction."


   The original green card became a yellow card when the System/370 was

   introduced, and later a yellow booklet. An anecdote from IBM refers to

   a scene that took place in a programmers' terminal room at Yorktown in

   1978. A [6205]luser overheard one of the programmers ask another "Do

   you have a green card?" The other grunted and passed the first a thick

   yellow booklet. At this point the luser turned a delicate shade of

   olive and rapidly left the room, never to return.


   In fall 2000 it was reported from Electronic Data Systems that the

   green card for 370 machines has been a blue-green booklet since 1989.



   Node:green lightning, Next:[6206]green machine, Previous:[6207]green

   card, Up:[6208]= G =


   green lightning n.


   [IBM] 1. Apparently random flashing streaks on the face of 3278-9

   terminals while a new symbol set is being downloaded. This hardware

   bug was left deliberately unfixed, as some genius within IBM suggested

   it would let the user know that `something is happening'. That, it

   certainly does. Later microprocessor-driven IBM color graphics

   displays were actually programmed to produce green lightning! 2.

   [proposed] Any bug perverted into an alleged feature by adroit

   rationalization or marketing. "Motorola calls the CISC cruft in the

   88000 architecture `compatibility logic', but I call it green

   lightning". See also [6209]feature (sense 6).



   Node:green machine, Next:[6210]Green's Theorem, Previous:[6211]green

   lightning, Up:[6212]= G =


   green machine n.


   A computer or peripheral device that has been designed and built to

   military specifications for field equipment (that is, to withstand

   mechanical shock, extremes of temperature and humidity, and so forth).

   Comes from the olive-drab `uniform' paint used for military equipment.



   Node:Green's Theorem, Next:[6213]greenbar, Previous:[6214]green

   machine, Up:[6215]= G =


   Green's Theorem prov.


   [TMRC] For any story, in any group of people there will be at least

   one person who has not heard the story. A refinement of the theorem

   states that there will be exactly one person (if there were more than

   one, it wouldn't be as bad to re-tell the story). [The name of this

   theorem is a play on a fundamental theorem in calculus. --ESR]



   Node:greenbar, Next:[6216]grep, Previous:[6217]Green's Theorem,

   Up:[6218]= G =


   greenbar n.


   A style of fanfolded continuous-feed paper with alternating green and

   white bars on it, especially used in old-style line printers. This

   slang almost certainly dates way back to mainframe days.



   Node:grep, Next:[6219]gribble, Previous:[6220]greenbar, Up:[6221]= G =


   grep /grep/ vi.


   [from the qed/ed editor idiom g/re/p, where re stands for a regular

   expression, to Globally search for the Regular Expression and Print

   the lines containing matches to it, via [6222]Unix grep(1)] To rapidly

   scan a file or set of files looking for a particular string or pattern

   (when browsing through a large set of files, one may speak of

   `grepping around'). By extension, to look for something by pattern.

   "Grep the bulletin board for the system backup schedule, would you?"

   See also [6223]vgrep.


   [It has also been alleged that the source is from the title of a paper

   "A General Regular Expression Parser" -ESR]



   Node:gribble, Next:[6224]grilf, Previous:[6225]grep, Up:[6226]= G =


   gribble n.


   Random binary data rendered as unreadable text. Noise characters in a

   data stream are displayed as gribble. Modems with mismatched bitrates

   usually generate gribble (more specifically, [6227]baud barf). Dumping

   a binary file to the screen is an excellent source of gribble, and (if

   the bell/speaker is active) headaches.



   Node:grilf, Next:[6228]grind, Previous:[6229]gribble, Up:[6230]= G =


   grilf // n.


   Girlfriend. Like [6231]newsfroup and [6232]filk, a typo reincarnated

   as a new word. Seems to have originated sometime in 1992 on

   [6233]Usenet. [A friend tells me there was a Lloyd Biggle SF novel

   "Watchers Of The Dark", in which alien species after species goes

   insane and begins to chant "Grilf! Grilf!". A human detective

   eventually determines that the word means "Liar!" I hope this has

   nothing to do with the popularity of the Usenet term. --ESR]



   Node:grind, Next:[6234]grind crank, Previous:[6235]grilf, Up:[6236]= G



   grind vt.


   1. [MIT and Berkeley; now rare] To prettify hardcopy of code,

   especially LISP code, by reindenting lines, printing keywords and

   comments in distinct fonts (if available), etc. This usage was

   associated with the MacLISP community and is now rare; prettyprint was

   and is the generic term for such operations. 2. [Unix] To generate the

   formatted version of a document from the [6237]nroff, [6238]troff,

   [6239]TeX, or Scribe source. 3. [common] To run seemingly

   interminably, esp. (but not necessarily) if performing some tedious

   and inherently useless task. Similar to [6240]crunch or [6241]grovel.

   Grinding has a connotation of using a lot of CPU time, but it is

   possible to grind a disk, network, etc. See also [6242]hog. 4. To make

   the whole system slow. "Troff really grinds a PDP-11." 5. `grind

   grind' excl. Roughly, "Isn't the machine slow today!"



   Node:grind crank, Next:[6243]gripenet, Previous:[6244]grind,

   Up:[6245]= G =


   grind crank n. //


   A mythical accessory to a terminal. A crank on the side of a monitor,

   which when operated makes a zizzing noise and causes the computer to

   run faster. Usually one does not refer to a grind crank out loud, but

   merely makes the appropriate gesture and noise. See [6246]grind.


   Historical note: At least one real machine actually had a grind crank

   -- the R1, a research machine built toward the end of the days of the

   great vacuum tube computers, in 1959. R1 (also known as `The Rice

   Institute Computer' (TRIC) and later as `The Rice University Computer'

   (TRUC)) had a single-step/free-run switch for use when debugging

   programs. Since single-stepping through a large program was rather

   tedious, there was also a crank with a cam and gear arrangement that

   repeatedly pushed the single-step button. This allowed one to `crank'

   through a lot of code, then slow down to single-step for a bit when

   you got near the code of interest, poke at some registers using the

   console typewriter, and then keep on cranking.



   Node:gripenet, Next:[6247]gritch, Previous:[6248]grind crank,

   Up:[6249]= G =


   gripenet n.


   [IBM] A wry (and thoroughly unofficial) name for IBM's internal VNET

   system, deriving from its common use by IBMers to voice pointed

   criticism of IBM management that would be taboo in more formal




   Node:gritch, Next:[6250]grok, Previous:[6251]gripenet, Up:[6252]= G =


   gritch /grich/


   [MIT] 1. n. A complaint (often caused by a [6253]glitch). 2. vi. To

   complain. Often verb-doubled: "Gritch gritch". 3. A synonym for

   [6254]glitch (as verb or noun).


   Interestingly, this word seems to have a separate history from

   [6255]glitch, with which it is often confused. Back in the early

   1960s, when `glitch' was strictly a hardware-tech's term of art, the

   Burton House dorm at M.I.T. maintained a "Gritch Book", a blank

   volume, into which the residents hand-wrote complaints, suggestions,

   and witticisms. Previous years' volumes of this tradition were

   maintained, dating back to antiquity. The word "gritch" was described

   as a portmanteau of "gripe" and "bitch". Thus, sense 3 above is at

   least historically incorrect.



   Node:grok, Next:[6256]gronk, Previous:[6257]gritch, Up:[6258]= G =


   grok /grok/, var. /grohk/ vt.


   [from the novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", by Robert A. Heinlein,

   where it is a Martian word meaning literally `to drink' and

   metaphorically `to be one with'] The emphatic form is `grok in

   fullness'. 1. To understand, usually in a global sense. Connotes

   intimate and exhaustive knowledge. Contrast [6259]zen, which is

   similar supernal understanding experienced as a single brief flash.

   See also [6260]glark. 2. Used of programs, may connote merely

   sufficient understanding. "Almost all C compilers grok the void type

   these days."



   Node:gronk, Next:[6261]gronk out, Previous:[6262]grok, Up:[6263]= G =


   gronk /gronk/ vt.


   [popularized by Johnny Hart's comic strip "B.C." but the word

   apparently predates that] 1. To clear the state of a wedged device and

   restart it. More severe than `to [6264]frob' (sense 2). 2. [TMRC] To

   cut, sever, smash, or similarly disable. 3. The sound made by many

   3.5-inch diskette drives. In particular, the microfloppies on a

   Commodore Amiga go "grink, gronk".



   Node:gronk out, Next:[6265]gronked, Previous:[6266]gronk, Up:[6267]= G



   gronk out vi.


   To cease functioning. Of people, to go home and go to sleep. "I guess

   I'll gronk out now; see you all tomorrow."



   Node:gronked, Next:[6268]grovel, Previous:[6269]gronk out, Up:[6270]=

   G =


   gronked adj.


   1. Broken. "The teletype scanner was gronked, so we took the system

   down." 2. Of people, the condition of feeling very tired or (less

   commonly) sick. "I've been chasing that bug for 17 hours now and I am

   thoroughly gronked!" Compare [6271]broken, which means about the same

   as [6272]gronk used of hardware, but connotes depression or

   mental/emotional problems in people.



   Node:grovel, Next:[6273]grue, Previous:[6274]gronked, Up:[6275]= G =


   grovel vi.


   1. To work interminably and without apparent progress. Often used

   transitively with `over' or `through'. "The file scavenger has been

   groveling through the /usr directories for 10 minutes now." Compare

   [6276]grind and [6277]crunch. Emphatic form: `grovel obscenely'. 2. To

   examine minutely or in complete detail. "The compiler grovels over the

   entire source program before beginning to translate it." "I grovelled

   through all the documentation, but I still couldn't find the command I




   Node:grue, Next:[6278]grunge, Previous:[6279]grovel, Up:[6280]= G =


   grue n.


   [from archaic English verb for `shudder', as with fear] The grue was

   originated in the game [6281]Zork (Dave Lebling took the name from

   Jack Vance's "Dying Earth" fantasies) and used in several other

   [6282]Infocom games as a hint that you should perhaps look for a lamp,

   torch or some type of light source. Wandering into a dark area would

   cause the game to prompt you, "It is very dark. If you continue you

   are likely to be eaten by a grue." If you failed to locate a light

   source within the next couple of moves this would indeed be the case.


   The grue, according to scholars of the Great Underground Empire, is a

   sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its

   favorite diet is either adventurers or enchanters, but its insatiable

   appetite is tempered by its extreme fear of light. No grues have ever

   been seen by the light of day, and only a few have been observed in

   their underground lairs. Of those who have seen grues, few have

   survived their fearsome jaws to tell the tale. Grues have sharp claws

   and fangs, and an uncontrollable tendency to slaver and gurgle. They

   are certainly the most evil-tempered of all creatures; to say they are

   touchy is a dangerous understatement. "Sour as a grue" is a common

   expression, even among themselves.


   All this folklore is widely known among hackers.



   Node:grunge, Next:[6283]gubbish, Previous:[6284]grue, Up:[6285]= G =


   grunge /gruhnj/ n.


   1. That which is grungy, or that which makes it so. 2. [Cambridge]

   Code which is inaccessible due to changes in other parts of the

   program. The preferred term in North America is [6286]dead code.



   Node:gubbish, Next:[6287]Guido, Previous:[6288]grunge, Up:[6289]= G =


   gubbish /guhb'*sh/ n.


   [a portmanteau of `garbage' and `rubbish'; may have originated with SF

   author Philip K. Dick] Garbage; crap; nonsense. "What is all this

   gubbish?" The opposite portmanteau `rubbage' is also reported; in

   fact, it was British slang during the 19th century and appears in




   Node:Guido, Next:[6290]guiltware, Previous:[6291]gubbish, Up:[6292]= G



   Guido /gwee'do/ or /khwee'do/


   Without qualification, Guido van Rossum (author of [6293]Python). Note

   that Guido answers to English /gwee'do/ but in Dutch it's /khwee'do/.



   Node:guiltware, Next:[6294]gumby, Previous:[6295]Guido, Up:[6296]= G =


   guiltware /gilt'weir/ n.


   1. A piece of [6297]freeware decorated with a message telling one how

   long and hard the author worked on it and intimating that one is a

   no-good freeloader if one does not immediately send the poor suffering

   martyr gobs of money. 2. A piece of [6298]shareware that works.



   Node:gumby, Next:[6299]gun, Previous:[6300]guiltware, Up:[6301]= G =


   gumby /guhm'bee/ n.


   [from a class of Monty Python characters, poss. with some influence

   from the 1960s claymation character] 1. An act of minor but

   conspicuous stupidity, often in `gumby maneuver' or `pull a gumby'. 2.

   [NRL] n. A bureaucrat, or other technical incompetent who impedes the

   progress of real work. 3. adj. Relating to things typically associated

   with people in sense 2. (e.g. "Ran would be writing code, but Richard

   gave him gumby work that's due on Friday", or, "Dammit! Travel screwed

   up my plane tickets. I have to go out on gumby patrol.")



   Node:gun, Next:[6302]gunch, Previous:[6303]gumby, Up:[6304]= G =


   gun vt.


   [ITS, now rare: from the :GUN command] To forcibly terminate a program

   or job (computer, not career). "Some idiot left a background process

   running soaking up half the cycles, so I gunned it." Usage: now rare.

   Compare [6305]can, [6306]blammo.



   Node:gunch, Next:[6307]gunpowder chicken, Previous:[6308]gun,

   Up:[6309]= G =


   gunch /guhnch/ vt.


   [TMRC] To push, prod, or poke at a device that has almost (but not

   quite) produced the desired result. Implies a threat to [6310]mung.



   Node:gunpowder chicken, Next:[6311]gurfle, Previous:[6312]gunch,

   Up:[6313]= G =


   gunpowder chicken n.


   Same as [6314]laser chicken.



   Node:gurfle, Next:[6315]guru, Previous:[6316]gunpowder chicken,

   Up:[6317]= G =


   gurfle /ger'fl/ interj.


   An expression of shocked disbelief. "He said we have to recode this

   thing in FORTRAN by next week. Gurfle!" Compare [6318]weeble.



   Node:guru, Next:[6319]guru meditation, Previous:[6320]gurfle,

   Up:[6321]= G =


   guru n.


   [Unix] An expert. Implies not only [6322]wizard skill but also a

   history of being a knowledge resource for others. Less often, used

   (with a qualifier) for other experts on other systems, as in `VMS

   guru'. See [6323]source of all good bits.



   Node:guru meditation, Next:[6324]gweep, Previous:[6325]guru,

   Up:[6326]= G =


   guru meditation n.


   Amiga equivalent of `panic' in Unix (sometimes just called a `guru' or

   `guru event'). When the system crashes, a cryptic message of the form

   "GURU MEDITATION #XXXXXXXX.YYYYYYYY" may appear, indicating what the

   problem was. An Amiga guru can figure things out from the numbers.

   Sometimes a [6327]guru event must be followed by a [6328]Vulcan nerve



   This term is (no surprise) an in-joke from the earliest days of the

   Amiga. An earlier product of the Amiga corporation was a device called

   a `Joyboard' which was basically a plastic board built onto a

   joystick-like device; it was sold with a skiing game cartridge for the

   Atari game machine. It is said that whenever the prototype OS crashed,

   the system programmer responsible would calm down by concentrating on

   a solution while sitting cross-legged on a Joyboard trying to keep the

   board in balance. This position resembled that of a meditating guru.

   Sadly, the joke was removed fairly early on (but there's a well-known

   patch to restore it in more recent versions).



   Node:gweep, Next:[6329]h, Previous:[6330]guru meditation, Up:[6331]= G



   gweep /gweep/


   [WPI] 1. v. To [6332]hack, usually at night. At WPI, from 1975

   onwards, one who gweeped could often be found at the College Computing

   Center punching cards or crashing the [6333]PDP-10 or, later, the

   DEC-20. A correspondent who was there at the time opines that the term

   was originally onomatopoetic, describing the keyclick sound of the

   Datapoint terminals long connected to the PDP-10. The term has

   survived the demise of those technologies, however, and was still

   alive in early 1999. "I'm going to go gweep for a while. See you in

   the morning." "I gweep from 8 PM till 3 AM during the week." 2. n. One

   who habitually gweeps in sense 1; a [6334]hacker. "He's a hard-core

   gweep, mumbles code in his sleep."



   Node:= H =, Next:[6335]= I =, Previous:[6336]= G =, Up:[6337]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= H =

     * [6338]h:

     * [6339]ha ha only serious:

     * [6340]hack:

     * [6341]hack attack:

     * [6342]hack mode:

     * [6343]hack on:

     * [6344]hack together:

     * [6345]hack up:

     * [6346]hack value:

     * [6347]hacked off:

     * [6348]hacked up:

     * [6349]hacker:

     * [6350]hacker ethic:

     * [6351]hacker humor:

     * [6352]Hackers (the movie):

     * [6353]hacking run:

     * [6354]Hacking X for Y:

     * [6355]Hackintosh:

     * [6356]hackish:

     * [6357]hackishness:

     * [6358]hackitude:

     * [6359]hair:

     * [6360]hairball:

     * [6361]hairy:

     * [6362]HAKMEM:

     * [6363]hakspek:

     * [6364]Halloween Documents:

     * [6365]hammer:

     * [6366]hamster:

     * [6367]HAND:

     * [6368]hand cruft:

     * [6369]hand-hacking:

     * [6370]handle:

     * [6371]handle:

     * [6372]hand-roll:

     * [6373]handshaking:

     * [6374]handwave:

     * [6375]hang:

     * [6376]Hanlon's Razor:

     * [6377]happily:

     * [6378]haque:

     * [6379]hard boot:

     * [6380]hardcoded:

     * [6381]hardwarily:

     * [6382]hardwired:

     * [6383]has the X nature:

     * [6384]hash bucket:

     * [6385]hash collision:

     * [6386]hat:

     * [6387]HCF:

     * [6388]heads down:

     * [6389]heartbeat:

     * [6390]heatseeker:

     * [6391]heavy metal:

     * [6392]heavy wizardry:

     * [6393]heavyweight:

     * [6394]heisenbug:

     * [6395]Helen Keller mode:

     * [6396]hello sailor!:

     * [6397]hello wall!:

     * [6398]hello world:

     * [6399]hex:

     * [6400]hexadecimal:

     * [6401]hexit:

     * [6402]HHOK:

     * [6403]HHOS:

     * [6404]hidden flag:

     * [6405]high bit:

     * [6406]high moby:

     * [6407]highly:

     * [6408]hing:

     * [6409]hired gun:

     * [6410]hirsute:

     * [6411]HLL:

     * [6412]hoarding:

     * [6413]hobbit:

     * [6414]hog:

     * [6415]hole:

     * [6416]hollised:

     * [6417]holy wars:

     * [6418]home box:

     * [6419]home machine:

     * [6420]home page:

     * [6421]honey pot:

     * [6422]hook:

     * [6423]hop:

     * [6424]hose:

     * [6425]hosed:

     * [6426]hot chat:

     * [6427]hot spot:

     * [6428]hotlink:

     * [6429]house wizard:

     * [6430]HP-SUX:

     * [6431]HTH:

     * [6432]huff:

     * [6433]humma:

     * [6434]hung:

     * [6435]hungry puppy:

     * [6436]hungus:

     * [6437]hyperspace:

     * [6438]hysterical reasons:



   Node:h, Next:[6439]ha ha only serious, Previous:[6440]gweep,

   Up:[6441]= H =




   [from SF fandom] A method of `marking' common words, i.e., calling

   attention to the fact that they are being used in a nonstandard,

   ironic, or humorous way. Originated in the fannish catchphrase "Bheer

   is the One True Ghod!" from decades ago. H-infix marking of `Ghod' and

   other words spread into the 1960s counterculture via underground

   comix, and into early hackerdom either from the counterculture or from

   SF fandom (the three overlapped heavily at the time). More recently,

   the h infix has become an expected feature of benchmark names

   (Dhrystone, Rhealstone, etc.); this is probably patterning on the

   original Whetstone (the name of a laboratory) but influenced by the

   fannish/counterculture h infix.



   Node:ha ha only serious, Next:[6442]hack, Previous:[6443]h, Up:[6444]=

   H =


   ha ha only serious


   [from SF fandom, orig. as mutation of HHOK, `Ha Ha Only Kidding'] A

   phrase (often seen abbreviated as HHOS) that aptly captures the flavor

   of much hacker discourse. Applied especially to parodies, absurdities,

   and ironic jokes that are both intended and perceived to contain a

   possibly disquieting amount of truth, or truths that are constructed

   on in-joke and self-parody. This lexicon contains many examples of

   ha-ha-only-serious in both form and content. Indeed, the entirety of

   hacker culture is often perceived as ha-ha-only-serious by hackers

   themselves; to take it either too lightly or too seriously marks a

   person as an outsider, a [6445]wannabee, or in [6446]larval stage. For

   further enlightenment on this subject, consult any Zen master. See

   also [6447]hacker humor, and [6448]AI koans.



   Node:hack, Next:[6449]hack attack, Previous:[6450]ha ha only serious,

   Up:[6451]= H =




   [very common] 1. n. Originally, a quick job that produces what is

   needed, but not well. 2. n. An incredibly good, and perhaps very

   time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed. 3.

   vt. To bear emotionally or physically. "I can't hack this heat!" 4.

   vt. To work on something (typically a program). In an immediate sense:

   "What are you doing?" "I'm hacking TECO." In a general (time-extended)

   sense: "What do you do around here?" "I hack TECO." More generally, "I

   hack `foo'" is roughly equivalent to "`foo' is my major interest (or

   project)". "I hack solid-state physics." See [6452]Hacking X for Y. 5.

   vt. To pull a prank on. See sense 2 and [6453]hacker (sense 5). 6. vi.

   To interact with a computer in a playful and exploratory rather than

   goal-directed way. "Whatcha up to?" "Oh, just hacking." 7. n. Short

   for [6454]hacker. 8. See [6455]nethack. 9. [MIT] v. To explore the

   basements, roof ledges, and steam tunnels of a large, institutional

   building, to the dismay of Physical Plant workers and (since this is

   usually performed at educational institutions) the Campus Police. This

   activity has been found to be eerily similar to playing adventure

   games such as Dungeons and Dragons and [6456]Zork. See also



   Constructions on this term abound. They include `happy hacking' (a

   farewell), `how's hacking?' (a friendly greeting among hackers) and

   `hack, hack' (a fairly content-free but friendly comment, often used

   as a temporary farewell). For more on this totipotent term see

   "[6458]The Meaning of Hack". See also [6459]neat hack, [6460]real




   Node:hack attack, Next:[6461]hack mode, Previous:[6462]hack,

   Up:[6463]= H =


   hack attack n.


   [poss. by analogy with `Big Mac Attack' from ads for the McDonald's

   fast-food chain; the variant `big hack attack' is reported] Nearly

   synonymous with [6464]hacking run, though the latter more strongly

   implies an all-nighter.



   Node:hack mode, Next:[6465]hack on, Previous:[6466]hack attack,

   Up:[6467]= H =


   hack mode n.


   1. What one is in when hacking, of course. 2. More specifically, a

   Zen-like state of total focus on The Problem that may be achieved when

   one is hacking (this is why every good hacker is part mystic). Ability

   to enter such concentration at will correlates strongly with

   wizardliness; it is one of the most important skills learned during

   [6468]larval stage. Sometimes amplified as `deep hack mode'.


   Being yanked out of hack mode (see [6469]priority interrupt) may be

   experienced as a physical shock, and the sensation of being in hack

   mode is more than a little habituating. The intensity of this

   experience is probably by itself sufficient explanation for the

   existence of hackers, and explains why many resist being promoted out

   of positions where they can code. See also [6470]cyberspace (sense 2).


   Some aspects of hacker etiquette will appear quite odd to an observer

   unaware of the high value placed on hack mode. For example, if someone

   appears at your door, it is perfectly okay to hold up a hand (without

   turning one's eyes away from the screen) to avoid being interrupted.

   One may read, type, and interact with the computer for quite some time

   before further acknowledging the other's presence (of course, he or

   she is reciprocally free to leave without a word). The understanding

   is that you might be in [6471]hack mode with a lot of delicate

   [6472]state (sense 2) in your head, and you dare not [6473]swap that

   context out until you have reached a good point to pause. See also

   [6474]juggling eggs.



   Node:hack on, Next:[6475]hack together, Previous:[6476]hack mode,

   Up:[6477]= H =


   hack on vt.


   [very common] To [6478]hack; implies that the subject is some

   pre-existing hunk of code that one is evolving, as opposed to

   something one might [6479]hack up.



   Node:hack together, Next:[6480]hack up, Previous:[6481]hack on,

   Up:[6482]= H =


   hack together vt.


   [common] To throw something together so it will work. Unlike `kluge

   together' or [6483]cruft together, this does not necessarily have

   negative connotations.



   Node:hack up, Next:[6484]hack value, Previous:[6485]hack together,

   Up:[6486]= H =


   hack up vt.


   To [6487]hack, but generally implies that the result is a hack in

   sense 1 (a quick hack). Contrast this with [6488]hack on. To `hack up

   on' implies a [6489]quick-and-dirty modification to an existing

   system. Contrast [6490]hacked up; compare [6491]kluge up, [6492]monkey

   up, [6493]cruft together.



   Node:hack value, Next:[6494]hacked off, Previous:[6495]hack up,

   Up:[6496]= H =


   hack value n.


   Often adduced as the reason or motivation for expending effort toward

   a seemingly useless goal, the point being that the accomplished goal

   is a hack. For example, MacLISP had features for reading and printing

   Roman numerals, which were installed purely for hack value. See

   [6497]display hack for one method of computing hack value, but this

   cannot really be explained, only experienced. As Louis Armstrong once

   said when asked to explain jazz: "Man, if you gotta ask you'll never

   know." (Feminists please note Fats Waller's explanation of rhythm:

   "Lady, if you got to ask, you ain't got it.")



   Node:hacked off, Next:[6498]hacked up, Previous:[6499]hack value,

   Up:[6500]= H =


   hacked off adj.


   [analogous to `pissed off'] Said of system administrators who have

   become annoyed, upset, or touchy owing to suspicions that their sites

   have been or are going to be victimized by crackers, or used for

   inappropriate, technically illegal, or even overtly criminal

   activities. For example, having unreadable files in your home

   directory called `worm', `lockpick', or `goroot' would probably be an

   effective (as well as impressively obvious and stupid) way to get your

   sysadmin hacked off at you.


   It has been pointed out that there is precedent for this usage in U.S.

   Navy slang, in which officers under discipline are sometimes said to

   be "in hack" and one may speak of "hacking off the C.O.".



   Node:hacked up, Next:[6501]hacker, Previous:[6502]hacked off,

   Up:[6503]= H =


   hacked up adj.


   Sufficiently patched, kluged, and tweaked that the surgical scars are

   beginning to crowd out normal tissue (compare [6504]critical mass).

   Not all programs that are hacked become `hacked up'; if modifications

   are done with some eye to coherence and continued maintainability, the

   software may emerge better for the experience. Contrast [6505]hack up.



   Node:hacker, Next:[6506]hacker ethic, Previous:[6507]hacked up,

   Up:[6508]= H =


   hacker n.


   [originally, someone who makes furniture with an axe] 1. A person who

   enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to

   stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to

   learn only the minimum necessary. 2. One who programs enthusiastically

   (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just

   theorizing about programming. 3. A person capable of appreciating

   [6509]hack value. 4. A person who is good at programming quickly. 5.

   An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work

   using it or on it; as in `a Unix hacker'. (Definitions 1 through 5 are

   correlated, and people who fit them congregate.) 6. An expert or

   enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example.

   7. One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming

   or circumventing limitations. 8. [deprecated] A malicious meddler who

   tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence

   `password hacker', `network hacker'. The correct term for this sense

   is [6510]cracker.


   The term `hacker' also tends to connote membership in the global

   community defined by the net (see [6511]the network and [6512]Internet

   address). For discussion of some of the basics of this culture, see

   the [6513]How To Become A Hacker FAQ. It also implies that the person

   described is seen to subscribe to some version of the hacker ethic

   (see [6514]hacker ethic).


   It is better to be described as a hacker by others than to describe

   oneself that way. Hackers consider themselves something of an elite (a

   meritocracy based on ability), though one to which new members are

   gladly welcome. There is thus a certain ego satisfaction to be had in

   identifying yourself as a hacker (but if you claim to be one and are

   not, you'll quickly be labeled [6515]bogus). See also [6516]wannabee.


   This term seems to have been first adopted as a badge in the 1960s by

   the hacker culture surrounding TMRC and the MIT AI Lab. We have a

   report that it was used in a sense close to this entry's by teenage

   radio hams and electronics tinkerers in the mid-1950s.



   Node:hacker ethic, Next:[6517]hacker humor, Previous:[6518]hacker,

   Up:[6519]= H =


   hacker ethic n.


   1. The belief that information-sharing is a powerful positive good,

   and that it is an ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by

   writing open-source and facilitating access to information and to

   computing resources wherever possible. 2. The belief that

   system-cracking for fun and exploration is ethically OK as long as the

   cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.


   Both of these normative ethical principles are widely, but by no means

   universally, accepted among hackers. Most hackers subscribe to the

   hacker ethic in sense 1, and many act on it by writing and giving away

   open-source software. A few go further and assert that all information

   should be free and any proprietary control of it is bad; this is the

   philosophy behind the [6520]GNU project.


   Sense 2 is more controversial: some people consider the act of

   cracking itself to be unethical, like breaking and entering. But the

   belief that `ethical' cracking excludes destruction at least moderates

   the behavior of people who see themselves as `benign' crackers (see

   also [6521]samurai). On this view, it may be one of the highest forms

   of hackerly courtesy to (a) break into a system, and then (b) explain

   to the sysop, preferably by email from a [6522]superuser account,

   exactly how it was done and how the hole can be plugged -- acting as

   an unpaid (and unsolicited) [6523]tiger team.


   The most reliable manifestation of either version of the hacker ethic

   is that almost all hackers are actively willing to share technical

   tricks, software, and (where possible) computing resources with other

   hackers. Huge cooperative networks such as [6524]Usenet, [6525]FidoNet

   and Internet (see [6526]Internet address) can function without central

   control because of this trait; they both rely on and reinforce a sense

   of community that may be hackerdom's most valuable intangible asset.



   Node:hacker humor, Next:[6527]Hackers (the movie),

   Previous:[6528]hacker ethic, Up:[6529]= H =


   hacker humor


   A distinctive style of shared intellectual humor found among hackers,

   having the following marked characteristics:


   1. Fascination with form-vs.-content jokes, paradoxes, and humor

   having to do with confusion of metalevels (see [6530]meta). One way to

   make a hacker laugh: hold a red index card in front of him/her with

   "GREEN" written on it, or vice-versa (note, however, that this is

   funny only the first time).


   2. Elaborate deadpan parodies of large intellectual constructs, such

   as specifications (see [6531]write-only memory), standards documents,

   language descriptions (see [6532]INTERCAL), and even entire scientific

   theories (see [6533]quantum bogodynamics, [6534]computron).


   3. Jokes that involve screwily precise reasoning from bizarre,

   ludicrous, or just grossly counter-intuitive premises.


   4. Fascination with puns and wordplay.


   5. A fondness for apparently mindless humor with subversive currents

   of intelligence in it -- for example, old Warner Brothers and Rocky &

   Bullwinkle cartoons, the Marx brothers, the early B-52s, and Monty

   Python's Flying Circus. Humor that combines this trait with elements

   of high camp and slapstick is especially favored.


   6. References to the symbol-object antinomies and associated ideas in

   Zen Buddhism and (less often) Taoism. See [6535]has the X nature,

   [6536]Discordianism, [6537]zen, [6538]ha ha only serious, [6539]koan,

   [6540]AI koans.


   See also [6541]filk, [6542]retrocomputing, and the Portrait of J.

   Random Hacker in [6543]Appendix B. If you have an itchy feeling that

   all six of these traits are really aspects of one thing that is

   incredibly difficult to talk about exactly, you are (a) correct and

   (b) responding like a hacker. These traits are also recognizable

   (though in a less marked form) throughout [6544]science-fiction




   Node:Hackers (the movie), Next:[6545]hacking run,

   Previous:[6546]hacker humor, Up:[6547]= H =


   Hackers (the movie) n.


   A notable bomb from 1995. Should have been titled "Crackers", because

   cracking is what the movie was about. It's understandable that they

   didn't however; titles redolent of snack food are probably a tough

   sell in Hollywood.



   Node:hacking run, Next:[6548]Hacking X for Y, Previous:[6549]Hackers

   (the movie), Up:[6550]= H =


   hacking run n.


   [analogy with `bombing run' or `speed run'] A hack session extended

   long outside normal working times, especially one longer than 12

   hours. May cause you to `change phase the hard way' (see [6551]phase).



   Node:Hacking X for Y, Next:[6552]Hackintosh, Previous:[6553]hacking

   run, Up:[6554]= H =


   Hacking X for Y n.


   [ITS] Ritual phrasing of part of the information which ITS made

   publicly available about each user. This information (the INQUIR

   record) was a sort of form in which the user could fill out various

   fields. On display, two of these fields were always combined into a

   project description of the form "Hacking X for Y" (e.g., "Hacking

   perceptrons for Minsky"). This form of description became traditional

   and has since been carried over to other systems with more general

   facilities for self-advertisement (such as Unix [6555]plan files).



   Node:Hackintosh, Next:[6556]hackish, Previous:[6557]Hacking X for Y,

   Up:[6558]= H =


   Hackintosh n.


   1. An Apple Lisa that has been hacked into emulating a Macintosh (also

   called a `Mac XL'). 2. A Macintosh assembled from parts theoretically

   belonging to different models in the line.



   Node:hackish, Next:[6559]hackishness, Previous:[6560]Hackintosh,

   Up:[6561]= H =


   hackish /hak'ish/ adj.


   (also [6562]hackishness n.) 1. Said of something that is or involves a

   hack. 2. Of or pertaining to hackers or the hacker subculture. See

   also [6563]true-hacker.



   Node:hackishness, Next:[6564]hackitude, Previous:[6565]hackish,

   Up:[6566]= H =


   hackishness n.


   The quality of being or involving a hack. This term is considered

   mildly silly. Syn. [6567]hackitude.



   Node:hackitude, Next:[6568]hair, Previous:[6569]hackishness,

   Up:[6570]= H =


   hackitude n.


   Syn. [6571]hackishness; this word is considered sillier.



   Node:hair, Next:[6572]hairball, Previous:[6573]hackitude, Up:[6574]= H



   hair n.


   [back-formation from [6575]hairy] The complications that make

   something hairy. "Decoding [6576]TECO commands requires a certain

   amount of hair." Often seen in the phrase `infinite hair', which

   connotes extreme complexity. Also in `hairiferous' (tending to promote

   hair growth): "GNUMACS elisp encourages lusers to write complex

   editing modes." "Yeah, it's pretty hairiferous all right." (or just:

   "Hair squared!")



   Node:hairball, Next:[6577]hairy, Previous:[6578]hair, Up:[6579]= H =


   hairball n.


   1. [Fidonet] A large batch of messages that a store-and-forward

   network is failing to forward when it should. Often used in the phrase

   "Fido coughed up a hairball today", meaning that the stuck messages

   have just come unstuck, producing a flood of mail where there had

   previously been drought. 2. An unmanageably huge mass of source code.

   "JWZ thought the Mozilla effort bogged down because the code was a

   huge hairball." 3. Any large amount of garbage coming out suddenly.

   "Sendmail is coughing up a hairball, so expect some slowness accessing

   the Internet."



   Node:hairy, Next:[6580]HAKMEM, Previous:[6581]hairball, Up:[6582]= H =


   hairy adj.


   1. Annoyingly complicated. "[6583]DWIM is incredibly hairy." 2.

   Incomprehensible. "[6584]DWIM is incredibly hairy." 3. Of people,

   high-powered, authoritative, rare, expert, and/or incomprehensible.

   Hard to explain except in context: "He knows this hairy lawyer who

   says there's nothing to worry about." See also [6585]hirsute.


   A well-known result in topology called the Brouwer Fixed-Point Theorem

   states that any continuous transformation of a 2-sphere into itself

   has at least one fixed point. Mathematically literate hackers tend to

   associate the term `hairy' with the informal version of this theorem;

   "You can't comb a hairy ball smooth."


   The adjective `long-haired' is well-attested to have been in slang use

   among scientists and engineers during the early 1950s; it was

   equivalent to modern `hairy' senses 1 and 2, and was very likely

   ancestral to the hackish use. In fact the noun `long-hair' was at the

   time used to describe a person satisfying sense 3. Both senses

   probably passed out of use when long hair was adopted as a signature

   trait by the 1960s counterculture, leaving hackish `hairy' as a sort

   of stunted mutant relic.


   In British mainstream use, "hairy" means "dangerous", and

   consequently, in British programming terms, "hairy" may be used to

   denote complicated and/or incomprehensible code, but only if that

   complexity or incomprehesiveness is also considered dangerous.



   Node:HAKMEM, Next:[6586]hakspek, Previous:[6587]hairy, Up:[6588]= H =


   HAKMEM /hak'mem/ n.


   MIT AI Memo 239 (February 1972). A legendary collection of neat

   mathematical and programming hacks contributed by many people at MIT

   and elsewhere. (The title of the memo really is "HAKMEM", which is a

   6-letterism for `hacks memo'.) Some of them are very useful

   techniques, powerful theorems, or interesting unsolved problems, but

   most fall into the category of mathematical and computer trivia. Here

   is a sampling of the entries (with authors), slightly paraphrased:


   Item 41 (Gene Salamin): There are exactly 23,000 prime numbers less

   than 2^(18).


   Item 46 (Rich Schroeppel): The most probable suit distribution in

   bridge hands is 4-4-3-2, as compared to 4-3-3-3, which is the most

   evenly distributed. This is because the world likes to have unequal

   numbers: a thermodynamic effect saying things will not be in the state

   of lowest energy, but in the state of lowest disordered energy.


   Item 81 (Rich Schroeppel): Count the magic squares of order 5 (that

   is, all the 5-by-5 arrangements of the numbers from 1 to 25 such that

   all rows, columns, and diagonals add up to the same number). There are

   about 320 million, not counting those that differ only by rotation and



   Item 154 (Bill Gosper): The myth that any given programming language

   is machine independent is easily exploded by computing the sum of

   powers of 2. If the result loops with period = 1 with sign +, you are

   on a sign-magnitude machine. If the result loops with period = 1 at

   -1, you are on a twos-complement machine. If the result loops with

   period greater than 1, including the beginning, you are on a

   ones-complement machine. If the result loops with period greater than

   1, not including the beginning, your machine isn't binary -- the

   pattern should tell you the base. If you run out of memory, you are on

   a string or bignum system. If arithmetic overflow is a fatal error,

   some fascist pig with a read-only mind is trying to enforce machine

   independence. But the very ability to trap overflow is machine

   dependent. By this strategy, consider the universe, or, more

   precisely, algebra: Let X = the sum of many powers of 2 = ...111111

   (base 2). Now add X to itself: X + X = ...111110. Thus, 2X = X - 1, so

   X = -1. Therefore algebra is run on a machine (the universe) that is



   Item 174 (Bill Gosper and Stuart Nelson): 21963283741 is the only

   number such that if you represent it on the [6589]PDP-10 as both an

   integer and a floating-point number, the bit patterns of the two

   representations are identical.


   Item 176 (Gosper): The "banana phenomenon" was encountered when

   processing a character string by taking the last 3 letters typed out,

   searching for a random occurrence of that sequence in the text, taking

   the letter following that occurrence, typing it out, and iterating.

   This ensures that every 4-letter string output occurs in the original.

   The program typed BANANANANANANANA.... We note an ambiguity in the

   phrase, "the Nth occurrence of." In one sense, there are five 00's in

   0000000000; in another, there are nine. The editing program TECO finds

   five. Thus it finds only the first ANA in BANANA, and is thus

   obligated to type N next. By Murphy's Law, there is but one NAN, thus

   forcing A, and thus a loop. An option to find overlapped instances

   would be useful, although it would require backing up N - 1 characters

   before seeking the next N-character string.


   Note: This last item refers to a [6590]Dissociated Press

   implementation. See also [6591]banana problem.


   HAKMEM also contains some rather more complicated mathematical and

   technical items, but these examples show some of its fun flavor.


   An HTML transcription of the entire document is available at




   Node:hakspek, Next:[6593]Halloween Documents, Previous:[6594]HAKMEM,

   Up:[6595]= H =


   hakspek /hak'speek/ n.


   A shorthand method of spelling found on many British academic bulletin

   boards and [6596]talker systems. Syllables and whole words in a

   sentence are replaced by single ASCII characters the names of which

   are phonetically similar or equivalent, while multiple letters are

   usually dropped. Hence, `for' becomes `4'; `two', `too', and `to'

   become `2'; `ck' becomes `k'. "Before I see you tomorrow" becomes "b4

   i c u 2moro". First appeared in London about 1986, and was probably

   caused by the slowness of available talker systems, which operated on

   archaic machines with outdated operating systems and no standard

   methods of communication. Has become rarer since. See also [6597]talk




   Node:Halloween Documents, Next:[6598]hammer, Previous:[6599]hakspek,

   Up:[6600]= H =


   Halloween Documents n.


   A pair of Microsoft internal strategy memoranda leaked to ESR in late

   1998 that confirmed everybody's paranoia about the current [6601]Evil

   Empire. [6602]These documents praised the technical excellence of

   [6603]Linux and outlined a counterstrategy of attempting to lock in

   customers by "de-commoditizing" Internet protocols and services. They

   were extensively cited on the Internet and in the press and proved so

   embarrassing that Microsoft PR barely said a word in public for six

   months afterwards.



   Node:hammer, Next:[6604]hamster, Previous:[6605]Halloween Documents,

   Up:[6606]= H =


   hammer vt.


   Commonwealth hackish syn. for [6607]bang on.



   Node:hamster, Next:[6608]HAND, Previous:[6609]hammer, Up:[6610]= H =


   hamster n.


   1. [Fairchild] A particularly slick little piece of code that does one

   thing well; a small, self-contained hack. The image is of a hamster

   [6611]happily spinning its exercise wheel. 2. A tailless mouse; that

   is, one with an infrared link to a receiver on the machine, as opposed

   to the conventional cable. 3. [UK] Any item of hardware made by

   Amstrad, a company famous for its cheap plastic PC-almost-compatibles.



   Node:HAND, Next:[6612]hand cruft, Previous:[6613]hamster, Up:[6614]= H



   HAND //


   [Usenet: very common] Abbreviation: Have A Nice Day. Typically used to

   close a [6615]Usenet posting, but also used to informally close

   emails; often preceded by [6616]HTH.



   Node:hand cruft, Next:[6617]hand-hacking, Previous:[6618]HAND,

   Up:[6619]= H =


   hand cruft vt.


   [pun on `hand craft'] See [6620]cruft, sense 3.



   Node:hand-hacking, Next:[6621]hand-roll, Previous:[6622]hand cruft,

   Up:[6623]= H =


   hand-hacking n.


   1. [rare] The practice of translating [6624]hot spots from an

   [6625]HLL into hand-tuned assembler, as opposed to trying to coerce

   the compiler into generating better code. Both the term and the

   practice are becoming uncommon. See [6626]tune, [6627]bum, [6628]by

   hand; syn. with v. [6629]cruft. 2. [common] More generally, manual

   construction or patching of data sets that would normally be generated

   by a translation utility and interpreted by another program, and

   aren't really designed to be read or modified by humans.



   Node:hand-roll, Next:[6630]handle, Previous:[6631]hand-hacking,

   Up:[6632]= H =


   hand-roll v.


   [from obs. mainstream slang `hand-rolled' in opposition to

   `ready-made', referring to cigarettes] To perform a normally automated

   software installation or configuration process [6633]by hand; implies

   that the normal process failed due to bugs in the configurator or was

   defeated by something exceptional in the local environment. "The worst

   thing about being a gateway between four different nets is having to

   hand-roll a new sendmail configuration every time any of them




   Node:handle, Next:[6634]handshaking, Previous:[6635]hand-roll,

   Up:[6636]= H =


   handle n.


   1. [from CB slang] An electronic pseudonym; a `nom de guerre' intended

   to conceal the user's true identity. Network and BBS handles function

   as the same sort of simultaneous concealment and display one finds on

   Citizen's Band radio, from which the term was adopted. Use of

   grandiose handles is characteristic of [6637]warez d00dz,

   [6638]crackers, [6639]weenies, [6640]spods, and other lower forms of

   network life; true hackers travel on their own reputations rather than

   invented legendry. Compare [6641]nick, [6642]screen name. 2. A

   [6643]magic cookie, often in the form of a numeric index into some

   array somewhere, through which you can manipulate an object like a

   file or window. The form `file handle' is especially common. 3. [Mac]

   A pointer to a pointer to dynamically-allocated memory; the extra

   level of indirection allows on-the-fly memory compaction (to cut down

   on fragmentation) or aging out of unused resources, with minimal

   impact on the (possibly multiple) parts of the larger program

   containing references to the allocated memory. Compare [6644]snap (to

   snap a handle would defeat its purpose); see also [6645]aliasing bug,

   [6646]dangling pointer.



   Node:handshaking, Next:[6647]handwave, Previous:[6648]handle,

   Up:[6649]= H =


   handshaking n.


   [very common] Hardware or software activity designed to start or keep

   two machines or programs in synchronization as they [6650]do protocol.

   Often applied to human activity; thus, a hacker might watch two people

   in conversation nodding their heads to indicate that they have heard

   each others' points and say "Oh, they're handshaking!". See also




   Node:handwave, Next:[6652]hang, Previous:[6653]handshaking, Up:[6654]=

   H =




   [poss. from gestures characteristic of stage magicians] 1. v. To gloss

   over a complex point; to distract a listener; to support a (possibly

   actually valid) point with blatantly faulty logic. 2. n. The act of

   handwaving. "Boy, what a handwave!"


   If someone starts a sentence with "Clearly..." or "Obviously..." or

   "It is self-evident that...", it is a good bet he is about to handwave

   (alternatively, use of these constructions in a sarcastic tone before

   a paraphrase of someone else's argument suggests that it is a

   handwave). The theory behind this term is that if you wave your hands

   at the right moment, the listener may be sufficiently distracted to

   not notice that what you have said is [6655]bogus. Failing that, if a

   listener does object, you might try to dismiss the objection with a

   wave of your hand.


   The use of this word is often accompanied by gestures: both hands up,

   palms forward, swinging the hands in a vertical plane pivoting at the

   elbows and/or shoulders (depending on the magnitude of the handwave);

   alternatively, holding the forearms in one position while rotating the

   hands at the wrist to make them flutter. In context, the gestures

   alone can suffice as a remark; if a speaker makes an outrageously

   unsupported assumption, you might simply wave your hands in this way,

   as an accusation, far more eloquent than words could express, that his

   logic is faulty.



   Node:hang, Next:[6656]Hanlon's Razor, Previous:[6657]handwave,

   Up:[6658]= H =


   hang v.


   1. [very common] To wait for an event that will never occur. "The

   system is hanging because it can't read from the crashed drive". See

   [6659]wedged, [6660]hung. 2. To wait for some event to occur; to hang

   around until something happens. "The program displays a menu and then

   hangs until you type a character." Compare [6661]block. 3. To attach a

   peripheral device, esp. in the construction `hang off': "We're going

   to hang another tape drive off the file server." Implies a device

   attached with cables, rather than something that is strictly inside

   the machine's chassis.



   Node:Hanlon's Razor, Next:[6662]happily, Previous:[6663]hang,

   Up:[6664]= H =


   Hanlon's Razor prov.


   A corollary of [6665]Finagle's Law, similar to Occam's Razor, that

   reads "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately

   explained by stupidity." The derivation of the Hanlon eponym is not

   definitely known, but a very similar remark ("You have attributed

   conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.") appears in

   "Logic of Empire", a classic 1941 SF story by Robert A. Heinlein, who

   calls it the `devil theory' of sociology. Heinlein's popularity in the

   hacker culture makes plausible the supposition that `Hanlon' is

   derived from `Heinlein' by phonetic corruption. A similar epigram has

   been attributed to William James, but Heinlein more probably got the

   idea from Alfred Korzybski and other practitioners of General

   Semantics. Quoted here because it seems to be a particular favorite of

   hackers, often showing up in [6666]sig blocks, [6667]fortune cookie

   files and the login banners of BBS systems and commercial networks.

   This probably reflects the hacker's daily experience of environments

   created by well-intentioned but short-sighted people. Compare

   [6668]Sturgeon's Law, [6669]Ninety-Ninety Rule.



   Node:happily, Next:[6670]haque, Previous:[6671]Hanlon's Razor,

   Up:[6672]= H =


   happily adv.


   Of software, used to emphasize that a program is unaware of some

   important fact about its environment, either because it has been

   fooled into believing a lie, or because it doesn't care. The sense of

   `happy' here is not that of elation, but rather that of blissful

   ignorance. "The program continues to run, happily unaware that its

   output is going to /dev/null." Also used to suggest that a program or

   device would really rather be doing something destructive, and is

   being given an opportunity to do so. "If you enter an O here instead

   of a zero, the program will happily erase all your data." Neverheless,

   use of this term implies a basically benign attitude towards the

   program: It didn't mean any harm, it was just eager to do its job.

   We'd like to be angry at it but we shouldn't, we should try to

   understand it instead. The adjective "cheerfully" is often used in

   exactly the same way.



   Node:haque, Next:[6673]hard boot, Previous:[6674]happily, Up:[6675]= H



   haque /hak/ n.


   [Usenet] Variant spelling of [6676]hack, used only for the noun form

   and connoting an [6677]elegant hack. that is a [6678]hack in sense 2.



   Node:hard boot, Next:[6679]hardcoded, Previous:[6680]haque, Up:[6681]=

   H =


   hard boot n.


   See [6682]boot.



   Node:hardcoded, Next:[6683]hardwarily, Previous:[6684]hard boot,

   Up:[6685]= H =


   hardcoded adj.


   1. [common] Said of data inserted directly into a program, where it

   cannot be easily modified, as opposed to data in some [6686]profile,

   resource (see [6687]de-rezz sense 2), or environment variable that a

   [6688]user or hacker can easily modify. 2. In C, this is esp. applied

   to use of a literal instead of a #define macro (see [6689]magic




   Node:hardwarily, Next:[6690]hardwired, Previous:[6691]hardcoded,

   Up:[6692]= H =


   hardwarily /hard-weir'*-lee/ adv.


   In a way pertaining to hardware. "The system is hardwarily

   unreliable." The adjective `hardwary' is not traditionally used,

   though it has recently been reported from the U.K. See




   Node:hardwired, Next:[6694]has the X nature,

   Previous:[6695]hardwarily, Up:[6696]= H =


   hardwired adj.


   1. In software, syn. for [6697]hardcoded. 2. By extension, anything

   that is not modifiable, especially in the sense of customizable to

   one's particular needs or tastes.



   Node:has the X nature, Next:[6698]hash bucket,

   Previous:[6699]hardwired, Up:[6700]= H =


   has the X nature


   [seems to derive from Zen Buddhist koans of the form "Does an X have

   the Buddha-nature?"] adj. Common hacker construction for `is an X',

   used for humorous emphasis. "Anyone who can't even use a program with

   on-screen help embedded in it truly has the [6701]loser nature!" See

   also [6702]the X that can be Y is not the true X. See also [6703]mu.



   Node:hash bucket, Next:[6704]hash collision, Previous:[6705]has the X

   nature, Up:[6706]= H =


   hash bucket n.


   A notional receptacle, a set of which might be used to apportion data

   items for sorting or lookup purposes. When you look up a name in the

   phone book (for example), you typically hash it by extracting its

   first letter; the hash buckets are the alphabetically ordered letter

   sections. This term is used as techspeak with respect to code that

   uses actual hash functions; in jargon, it is used for human

   associative memory as well. Thus, two things `in the same hash bucket'

   are more difficult to discriminate, and may be confused. "If you hash

   English words only by length, you get too many common grammar words in

   the first couple of hash buckets." Compare [6707]hash collision.



   Node:hash collision, Next:[6708]hat, Previous:[6709]hash bucket,

   Up:[6710]= H =


   hash collision n.


   [from the techspeak] (var. `hash clash') When used of people,

   signifies a confusion in associative memory or imagination, especially

   a persistent one (see [6711]thinko). True story: One of us [ESR] was

   once on the phone with a friend about to move out to Berkeley. When

   asked what he expected Berkeley to be like, the friend replied: "Well,

   I have this mental picture of naked women throwing Molotov cocktails,

   but I think that's just a collision in my hash tables." Compare

   [6712]hash bucket.



   Node:hat, Next:[6713]HCF, Previous:[6714]hash collision, Up:[6715]= H



   hat n.


   Common (spoken) name for the circumflex (`^', ASCII 1011110)

   character. See [6716]ASCII for other synonyms.



   Node:HCF, Next:[6717]heads down, Previous:[6718]hat, Up:[6719]= H =


   HCF /H-C-F/ n.


   Mnemonic for `Halt and Catch Fire', any of several undocumented and

   semi-mythical machine instructions with destructive side-effects,

   supposedly included for test purposes on several well-known

   architectures going as far back as the IBM 360. The MC6800

   microprocessor was the first for which an HCF opcode became widely

   known. This instruction caused the processor to [6720]toggle a subset

   of the bus lines as rapidly as it could; in some configurations this

   could actually cause lines to burn up. Compare [6721]killer poke.



   Node:heads down, Next:[6722]heartbeat, Previous:[6723]HCF, Up:[6724]=

   H =


   heads down [Sun] adj.


   Concentrating, usually so heavily and for so long that everything

   outside the focus area is missed. See also [6725]hack mode and

   [6726]larval stage, although this mode is hardly confined to fledgling




   Node:heartbeat, Next:[6727]heatseeker, Previous:[6728]heads down,

   Up:[6729]= H =


   heartbeat n.


   1. The signal emitted by a Level 2 Ethernet transceiver at the end of

   every packet to show that the collision-detection circuit is still

   connected. 2. A periodic synchronization signal used by software or

   hardware, such as a bus clock or a periodic interrupt. 3. The

   `natural' oscillation frequency of a computer's clock crystal, before

   frequency division down to the machine's clock rate. 4. A signal

   emitted at regular intervals by software to demonstrate that it is

   still alive. Sometimes hardware is designed to reboot the machine if

   it stops hearing a heartbeat. See also [6730]breath-of-life packet.



   Node:heatseeker, Next:[6731]heavy metal, Previous:[6732]heartbeat,

   Up:[6733]= H =


   heatseeker n.


   [IBM] A customer who can be relied upon to buy, without fail, the

   latest version of an existing product (not quite the same as a member

   of the [6734]lunatic fringe). A 1993 example of a heatseeker was

   someone who, owning a 286 PC and Windows 3.0, went out and bought

   Windows 3.1 (which offers no worthwhile benefits unless you have a

   386). If all customers were heatseekers, vast amounts of money could

   be made by just fixing some of the bugs in each release (n) and

   selling it to them as release (n+1). Microsoft in fact seems to have

   mastered this technique.



   Node:heavy metal, Next:[6735]heavy wizardry,

   Previous:[6736]heatseeker, Up:[6737]= H =


   heavy metal n.


   [Cambridge] Syn. [6738]big iron.



   Node:heavy wizardry, Next:[6739]heavyweight, Previous:[6740]heavy

   metal, Up:[6741]= H =


   heavy wizardry n.


   Code or designs that trade on a particularly intimate knowledge or

   experience of a particular operating system or language or complex

   application interface. Distinguished from [6742]deep magic, which

   trades more on arcane theoretical knowledge. Writing device drivers is

   heavy wizardry; so is interfacing to [6743]X (sense 2) without a

   toolkit. Esp. found in source-code comments of the form "Heavy

   wizardry begins here". Compare [6744]voodoo programming.



   Node:heavyweight, Next:[6745]heisenbug, Previous:[6746]heavy wizardry,

   Up:[6747]= H =


   heavyweight adj.


   [common] High-overhead; [6748]baroque; code-intensive; featureful, but

   costly. Esp. used of communication protocols, language designs, and

   any sort of implementation in which maximum generality and/or ease of

   implementation has been pushed at the expense of mundane

   considerations such as speed, memory utilization, and startup time.

   [6749]EMACS is a heavyweight editor; [6750]X is an extremely

   heavyweight window system. This term isn't pejorative, but one

   hacker's heavyweight is another's [6751]elephantine and a third's

   [6752]monstrosity. Oppose `lightweight'. Usage: now borders on

   techspeak, especially in the compound `heavyweight process'.



   Node:heisenbug, Next:[6753]Helen Keller mode,

   Previous:[6754]heavyweight, Up:[6755]= H =


   heisenbug /hi:'zen-buhg/ n.


   [from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle in quantum physics] A bug

   that disappears or alters its behavior when one attempts to probe or

   isolate it. (This usage is not even particularly fanciful; the use of

   a debugger sometimes alters a program's operating environment

   significantly enough that buggy code, such as that which relies on the

   values of uninitialized memory, behaves quite differently.) Antonym of

   [6756]Bohr bug; see also [6757]mandelbug, [6758]schroedinbug. In C,

   nine out of ten heisenbugs result from uninitialized auto variables,

   [6759]fandango on core phenomena (esp. lossage related to corruption

   of the malloc [6760]arena) or errors that [6761]smash the stack.



   Node:Helen Keller mode, Next:[6762]hello sailor!,

   Previous:[6763]heisenbug, Up:[6764]= H =


   Helen Keller mode n.


   1. State of a hardware or software system that is deaf, dumb, and

   blind, i.e., accepting no input and generating no output, usually due

   to an infinite loop or some other excursion into [6765]deep space.

   (Unfair to the real Helen Keller, whose success at learning speech was

   triumphant.) See also [6766]go flatline, [6767]catatonic. 2. On IBM

   PCs under DOS, refers to a specific failure mode in which a screen

   saver has kicked in over an [6768]ill-behaved application which

   bypasses the very interrupts the screen saver watches for activity.

   Your choices are to try to get from the program's current state

   through a successful save-and-exit without being able to see what

   you're doing, or to re-boot the machine. This isn't (strictly

   speaking) a crash.



   Node:hello sailor!, Next:[6769]hello wall!, Previous:[6770]Helen

   Keller mode, Up:[6771]= H =


   hello sailor! interj.


   Occasional West Coast equivalent of [6772]hello world; seems to have

   originated at SAIL, later associated with the game [6773]Zork (which

   also included "hello, aviator" and "hello, implementor"). Originally

   from the traditional hooker's greeting to a swabbie fresh off the

   boat, of course. The standard response is "Nothing happens here."; of

   all the Zork/Dungeon games, only in Infocom's Zork 3 is "Hello,

   Sailor" actually useful (excluding the unique situation where

   _knowing_ this fact is important in Dungeon...).



   Node:hello wall!, Next:[6774]hello world, Previous:[6775]hello

   sailor!, Up:[6776]= H =


   hello, wall! excl.


   See [6777]wall.



   Node:hello world, Next:[6778]hex, Previous:[6779]hello wall!,

   Up:[6780]= H =


   hello world interj.


   1. The canonical minimal test message in the C/Unix universe. 2. Any

   of the minimal programs that emit this message. Traditionally, the

   first program a C coder is supposed to write in a new environment is

   one that just prints "hello, world" to standard output (and indeed it

   is the first example program in [6781]K&R). Environments that generate

   an unreasonably large executable for this trivial test or which

   require a [6782]hairy compiler-linker invocation to generate it are

   considered to [6783]lose (see [6784]X). 3. Greeting uttered by a

   hacker making an entrance or requesting information from anyone

   present. "Hello, world! Is the LAN back up yet?"



   Node:hex, Next:[6785]hexadecimal, Previous:[6786]hello world,

   Up:[6787]= H =


   hex n.


   1. Short for [6788]hexadecimal, base 16. 2. A 6-pack of anything

   (compare [6789]quad, sense 2). Neither usage has anything to do with

   [6790]magic or [6791]black art, though the pun is appreciated and

   occasionally used by hackers. True story: As a joke, some hackers once

   offered some surplus ICs for sale to be worn as protective amulets

   against hostile magic. The chips were, of course, hex inverters.



   Node:hexadecimal, Next:[6792]hexit, Previous:[6793]hex, Up:[6794]= H =


   hexadecimal n.


   Base 16. Coined in the early 1960s to replace earlier `sexadecimal',

   which was too racy and amusing for stuffy IBM, and later adopted by

   the rest of the industry.


   Actually, neither term is etymologically pure. If we take `binary' to

   be paradigmatic, the most etymologically correct term for base 10, for

   example, is `denary', which comes from `deni' (ten at a time, ten

   each), a Latin `distributive' number; the corresponding term for

   base-16 would be something like `sendenary'. `Decimal' is from an

   ordinal number; the corresponding prefix for 6 would imply something

   like `sextidecimal'. The `sexa-' prefix is Latin but incorrect in this

   context, and `hexa-' is Greek. The word `octal' is similarly

   incorrect; a correct form would be `octaval' (to go with decimal), or

   `octonary' (to go with binary). If anyone ever implements a base-3

   computer, computer scientists will be faced with the unprecedented

   dilemma of a choice between two correct forms; both `ternary' and

   `trinary' have a claim to this throne.



   Node:hexit, Next:[6795]HHOK, Previous:[6796]hexadecimal, Up:[6797]= H



   hexit /hek'sit/ n.


   A hexadecimal digit (0-9, and A-F or a-f). Used by people who claim

   that there are only ten digits, dammit; sixteen-fingered human beings

   are rather rare, despite what some keyboard designs might seem to

   imply (see [6798]space-cadet keyboard).



   Node:HHOK, Next:[6799]HHOS, Previous:[6800]hexit, Up:[6801]= H =




   See [6802]ha ha only serious.



   Node:HHOS, Next:[6803]hidden flag, Previous:[6804]HHOK, Up:[6805]= H =




   See [6806]ha ha only serious.



   Node:hidden flag, Next:[6807]high bit, Previous:[6808]HHOS, Up:[6809]=

   H =


   hidden flag n.


   [scientific computation] An extra option added to a routine without

   changing the calling sequence. For example, instead of adding an

   explicit input variable to instruct a routine to give extra diagnostic

   output, the programmer might just add a test for some otherwise

   meaningless feature of the existing inputs, such as a negative mass.

   The use of hidden flags can make a program very hard to debug and

   understand, but is all too common wherever programs are hacked on in a




   Node:high bit, Next:[6810]high moby, Previous:[6811]hidden flag,

   Up:[6812]= H =


   high bit n.


   [from `high-order bit'] 1. The most significant bit in a byte. 2.

   [common] By extension, the most significant part of something other

   than a data byte: "Spare me the whole [6813]saga, just give me the

   high bit." See also [6814]meta bit, [6815]hobbit, [6816]dread high-bit

   disease, and compare the mainstream slang `bottom line'.



   Node:high moby, Next:[6817]highly, Previous:[6818]high bit, Up:[6819]=

   H =


   high moby /hi:' mohb'ee/ n.


   The high half of a 512K [6820]PDP-10's physical address space; the

   other half was of course the low moby. This usage has been generalized

   in a way that has outlasted the [6821]PDP-10; for example, at the 1990

   Washington D.C. Area Science Fiction Conclave (Disclave), when a

   miscommunication resulted in two separate wakes being held in

   commemoration of the shutdown of MIT's last [6822]ITS machines, the

   one on the upper floor was dubbed the `high moby' and the other the

   `low moby'. All parties involved [6823]grokked this instantly. See




   Node:highly, Next:[6825]hing, Previous:[6826]high moby, Up:[6827]= H =


   highly adv.


   [scientific computation] The preferred modifier for overstating an

   understatement. As in: `highly nonoptimal', the worst possible way to

   do something; `highly nontrivial', either impossible or requiring a

   major research project; `highly nonlinear', completely erratic and

   unpredictable; `highly nontechnical', drivel written for [6828]lusers,

   oversimplified to the point of being misleading or incorrect (compare

   [6829]drool-proof paper). In other computing cultures, postfixing of

   [6830]in the extreme might be preferred.



   Node:hing, Next:[6831]hired gun, Previous:[6832]highly, Up:[6833]= H =


   hing // n.


   [IRC] Fortuitous typo for `hint', now in wide intentional use among

   players of [6834]initgame. Compare [6835]newsfroup, [6836]filk.



   Node:hired gun, Next:[6837]hirsute, Previous:[6838]hing, Up:[6839]= H



   hired gun n.


   A contract programmer, as opposed to a full-time staff member. All the

   connotations of this term suggested by innumerable spaghetti Westerns

   are intentional.



   Node:hirsute, Next:[6840]HLL, Previous:[6841]hired gun, Up:[6842]= H =


   hirsute adj.


   Occasionally used humorously as a synonym for [6843]hairy.



   Node:HLL, Next:[6844]hoarding, Previous:[6845]hirsute, Up:[6846]= H =


   HLL /H-L-L/ n.


   [High-Level Language (as opposed to assembler)] Found primarily in

   email and news rather than speech. Rarely, the variants `VHLL' and

   `MLL' are found. VHLL stands for `Very-High-Level Language' and is

   used to describe a [6847]bondage-and-discipline language that the

   speaker happens to like; Prolog and Backus's FP are often called

   VHLLs. `MLL' stands for `Medium-Level Language' and is sometimes used

   half-jokingly to describe [6848]C, alluding to its

   `structured-assembler' image. See also [6849]languages of choice.



   Node:hoarding, Next:[6850]hobbit, Previous:[6851]HLL, Up:[6852]= H =


   hoarding n.


   See [6853]software hoarding.



   Node:hobbit, Next:[6854]hog, Previous:[6855]hoarding, Up:[6856]= H =


   hobbit n.


   1. [rare] The High Order BIT of a byte; same as the [6857]meta bit or

   [6858]high bit. 2. The non-ITS name of [6859]

   (*Hobbit*), master of lasers.



   Node:hog, Next:[6860]hole, Previous:[6861]hobbit, Up:[6862]= H =


   hog n.,vt.


   1. Favored term to describe programs or hardware that seem to eat far

   more than their share of a system's resources, esp. those which

   noticeably degrade interactive response. Not used of programs that are

   simply extremely large or complex or that are merely painfully slow

   themselves. More often than not encountered in qualified forms, e.g.,

   `memory hog', `core hog', `hog the processor', `hog the disk'. "A

   controller that never gives up the I/O bus gets killed after the

   bus-hog timer expires." 2. Also said of people who use more than their

   fair share of resources (particularly disk, where it seems that 10% of

   the people use 90% of the disk, no matter how big the disk is or how

   many people use it). Of course, once disk hogs fill up one filesystem,

   they typically find some other new one to infect, claiming to the

   sysadmin that they have an important new project to complete.



   Node:hole, Next:[6863]hollised, Previous:[6864]hog, Up:[6865]= H =


   hole n.


   A region in an otherwise [6866]flat entity which is not actually

   present. For example, some Unix filesystems can store large files with

   holes so that unused regions of the file are never actually stored on

   disk. (In techspeak, these are referred to as `sparse' files.) As

   another example, the region of memory in IBM PCs reserved for

   memory-mapped I/O devices which may not actually be present is called

   `the I/O hole', since memory-management systems must skip over this

   area when filling user requests for memory.



   Node:hollised, Next:[6867]holy wars, Previous:[6868]hole, Up:[6869]= H



   hollised /hol'ist/ adj.


   [Usenet:] To be hollised is to have been ordered by one's

   employer not to post any even remotely job-related material to Usenet

   (or, by extension, to other Internet media). The original and most

   notorious case of this involved one Ken Hollis, a Lockheed employee

   and space-program enthusiast who posted publicly available material on

   access to Space Shuttle launches to He was gagged under

   threat of being fired in 1994 at the behest of NASA public-relations

   officers. The result was, of course, a huge publicity black eye for

   NASA. Nevertheless several other NASA contractor employees were

   subsequently hollised for similar activities. Use of this term carries

   the strong connotation that the persons doing the gagging are

   bureaucratic idiots blinded to their own best interests by territorial




   Node:holy wars, Next:[6870]home box, Previous:[6871]hollised,

   Up:[6872]= H =


   holy wars n.


   [from [6873]Usenet, but may predate it; common] n. [6874]flame wars

   over [6875]religious issues. The paper by Danny Cohen that popularized

   the terms [6876]big-endian and [6877]little-endian in connection with

   the LSB-first/MSB-first controversy was entitled "On Holy Wars and a

   Plea for Peace".


   Great holy wars of the past have included [6878]ITS vs. [6879]Unix,

   [6880]Unix vs. [6881]VMS, [6882]BSD Unix vs. [6883]USG Unix, [6884]C

   vs. [6885]Pascal, [6886]C vs. FORTRAN, etc. In the year 2000, popular

   favorites of the day are KDE vs, GNOME, vim vs. elvis, Linux vs.

   [Free|Net|Open]BSD. Hardy perennials include [6887]EMACS vs. [6888]vi,

   my personal computer vs. everyone else's personal computer, ad

   nauseam. The characteristic that distinguishes holy wars from normal

   technical disputes is that in a holy war most of the participants

   spend their time trying to pass off personal value choices and

   cultural attachments as objective technical evaluations. This happens

   precisely because in a true holy war, the actual substantive

   differences between the sides are relatively minor. See also




   Node:home box, Next:[6890]home machine, Previous:[6891]holy wars,

   Up:[6892]= H =


   home box n.


   A hacker's personal machine, especially one he or she owns. "Yeah?

   Well, my home box runs a full 4.4 BSD, so there!"



   Node:home machine, Next:[6893]home page, Previous:[6894]home box,

   Up:[6895]= H =


   home machine n.


   1. Syn. [6896]home box. 2. The machine that receives your email. These

   senses might be distinct, for example, for a hacker who owns one

   computer at home, but reads email at work.



   Node:home page, Next:[6897]honey pot, Previous:[6898]home machine,

   Up:[6899]= H =


   home page n.


   1. One's personal billboard on the World Wide Web. The term `home

   page' is perhaps a bit misleading because home directories and

   physical homes in [6900]RL are private, but home pages are designed to

   be very public. 2. By extension, a WWW repository for information and

   links related to a project or organization. Compare [6901]home box.



   Node:honey pot, Next:[6902]hook, Previous:[6903]home page, Up:[6904]=

   H =


   honey pot n.


   A box designed to attract [6905]crackers so that they can be observed

   in action. It is usually well isolated from the rest of the network,

   but has extensive logging (usually network layer, on a different

   machine). Different from an [6906]iron box in that it's purpose is to

   attract, not merely observe. Sometimes, it is also a defensive network

   security tactic - you set up an easy-to-crack box so that your real

   servers don't get messed with. The concept was presented in Cheswick &

   Bellovin's book "Firewalls and Internet Security".



   Node:hook, Next:[6907]hop, Previous:[6908]honey pot, Up:[6909]= H =


   hook n.


   A software or hardware feature included in order to simplify later

   additions or changes by a user. For example, a simple program that

   prints numbers might always print them in base 10, but a more flexible

   version would let a variable determine what base to use; setting the

   variable to 5 would make the program print numbers in base 5. The

   variable is a simple hook. An even more flexible program might examine

   the variable and treat a value of 16 or less as the base to use, but

   treat any other number as the address of a user-supplied routine for

   printing a number. This is a [6910]hairy but powerful hook; one can

   then write a routine to print numbers as Roman numerals, say, or as

   Hebrew characters, and plug it into the program through the hook.

   Often the difference between a good program and a superb one is that

   the latter has useful hooks in judiciously chosen places. Both may do

   the original job about equally well, but the one with the hooks is

   much more flexible for future expansion of capabilities ([6911]EMACS,

   for example, is all hooks). The term `user exit' is synonymous but

   much more formal and less hackish.



   Node:hop, Next:[6912]hose, Previous:[6913]hook, Up:[6914]= H =




   1. n. [common] One file transmission in a series required to get a

   file from point A to point B on a store-and-forward network. On such

   networks (including [6915]UUCPNET and [6916]FidoNet), an important

   inter-machine metric is the number of hops in the shortest path

   between them, which can be more significant than their geographical

   separation. See [6917]bang path. 2. v. [rare] To log in to a remote

   machine, esp. via rlogin or telnet. "I'll hop over to foovax to FTP




   Node:hose, Next:[6918]hosed, Previous:[6919]hop, Up:[6920]= H =




   1. vt. [common] To make non-functional or greatly degraded in

   performance. "That big ray-tracing program really hoses the system."

   See [6921]hosed. 2. n. A narrow channel through which data flows under

   pressure. Generally denotes data paths that represent performance

   bottlenecks. 3. n. Cabling, especially thick Ethernet cable. This is

   sometimes called `bit hose' or `hosery' (play on `hosiery') or

   `etherhose'. See also [6922]washing machine.



   Node:hosed, Next:[6923]hot chat, Previous:[6924]hose, Up:[6925]= H =


   hosed adj.


   Same as [6926]down. Used primarily by Unix hackers. Humorous: also

   implies a condition thought to be relatively easy to reverse. Probably

   derived from the Canadian slang `hoser' popularized by the Bob and

   Doug Mackenzie skits on SCTV, but this usage predated SCTV by years in

   hackerdom (it was certainly already live at CMU in the 1970s). See

   [6927]hose. It is also widely used of people in the mainstream sense

   of `in an extremely unfortunate situation'.


   Once upon a time, a Cray that had been experiencing periodic

   difficulties crashed, and it was announced to have been hosed. It was

   discovered that the crash was due to the disconnection of some coolant

   hoses. The problem was corrected, and users were then assured that

   everything was OK because the system had been rehosed. See also




   Node:hot chat, Next:[6929]hot spot, Previous:[6930]hosed, Up:[6931]= H



   hot chat n.


   Sexually explicit one-on-one chat. See [6932]teledildonics.



   Node:hot spot, Next:[6933]hotlink, Previous:[6934]hot chat, Up:[6935]=

   H =


   hot spot n.


   1. [primarily used by C/Unix programmers, but spreading] It is

   received wisdom that in most programs, less than 10% of the code eats

   90% of the execution time; if one were to graph instruction visits

   versus code addresses, one would typically see a few huge spikes

   amidst a lot of low-level noise. Such spikes are called `hot spots'

   and are good candidates for heavy optimization or [6936]hand-hacking.

   The term is especially used of tight loops and recursions in the

   code's central algorithm, as opposed to (say) initial set-up costs or

   large but infrequent I/O operations. See [6937]tune, [6938]bum,

   [6939]hand-hacking. 2. The active location of a cursor on a bit-map

   display. "Put the mouse's hot spot on the `ON' widget and click the

   left button." 3. A screen region that is sensitive to mouse gestures,

   which trigger some action. World Wide Web pages now provide the

   [6940]canonical examples; WWW browsers present hypertext links as hot

   spots which, when clicked on, point the browser at another document

   (these are specifically called [6941]hotlinks). 4. In a massively

   parallel computer with shared memory, the one location that all 10,000

   processors are trying to read or write at once (perhaps because they

   are all doing a [6942]busy-wait on the same lock). 5. More generally,

   any place in a hardware design that turns into a performance

   bottleneck due to resource contention.



   Node:hotlink, Next:[6943]house wizard, Previous:[6944]hot spot,

   Up:[6945]= H =


   hotlink /hot'link/ n.


   A [6946]hot spot on a World Wide Web page; an area, which, when

   clicked or selected, chases a URL. Also spelled `hot link'. Use of

   this term focuses on the link's role as an immediate part of your

   display, as opposed to the timeless sense of logical connection

   suggested by [6947]web pointer. Your screen shows hotlinks but your

   document has web pointers, not (in normal usage) the other way around.



   Node:house wizard, Next:[6948]HP-SUX, Previous:[6949]hotlink,

   Up:[6950]= H =


   house wizard n.


   [prob. from ad-agency tradetalk, `house freak'] A hacker occupying a

   technical-specialist, R&D, or systems position at a commercial shop. A

   really effective house wizard can have influence out of all proportion

   to his/her ostensible rank and still not have to wear a suit. Used

   esp. of Unix wizards. The term `house guru' is equivalent.



   Node:HP-SUX, Next:[6951]HTH, Previous:[6952]house wizard, Up:[6953]= H



   HP-SUX /H-P suhks/ n.


   Unflattering hackerism for HP-UX, Hewlett-Packard's Unix port, which

   features some truly unique bogosities in the filesystem internals and

   elsewhere (these occasionally create portability problems). HP-UX is

   often referred to as `hockey-pux' inside HP, and one respondent claims

   that the proper pronunciation is /H-P ukkkhhhh/ as though one were

   about to spit. Another such alternate spelling and pronunciation is

   "H-PUX" /H-puhks/. Hackers at HP/Apollo (the former Apollo Computers

   which was swallowed by HP in 1989) have been heard to complain that

   Mr. Packard should have pushed to have his name first, if for no other

   reason than the greater eloquence of the resulting acronym. Compare

   [6954]AIDX, [6955]buglix. See also [6956]Nominal Semidestructor,

   [6957]Telerat, [6958]ScumOS, [6959]sun-stools, [6960]Slowlaris.



   Node:HTH, Next:[6961]huff, Previous:[6962]HP-SUX, Up:[6963]= H =


   HTH //


   [Usenet: very common] Abbreviation: Hope This Helps (e.g. following a

   response to a technical question). Often used just before [6964]HAND.

   See also [6965]YHBT.



   Node:huff, Next:[6966]humma, Previous:[6967]HTH, Up:[6968]= H =


   huff v.


   To compress data using a Huffman code. Various programs that use such

   methods have been called `HUFF' or some variant thereof. Oppose

   [6969]puff. Compare [6970]crunch, [6971]compress.



   Node:humma, Next:[6972]hung, Previous:[6973]huff, Up:[6974]= H =


   humma // excl.


   A filler word used on various `chat' and `talk' programs when you had

   nothing to say but felt that it was important to say something. The

   word apparently originated (at least with this definition) on the MECC

   Timeshare System (MTS, a now-defunct educational time-sharing system

   running in Minnesota during the 1970s and the early 1980s) but was

   later sighted on early Unix systems. Compare the U.K's [6975]wibble.



   Node:hung, Next:[6976]hungry puppy, Previous:[6977]humma, Up:[6978]= H



   hung adj.


   [from `hung up'; common] Equivalent to [6979]wedged, but more common

   at Unix/C sites. Not generally used of people. Syn. with [6980]locked

   up, [6981]wedged; compare [6982]hosed. See also [6983]hang. A hung

   state is distinguished from [6984]crashed or [6985]down, where the

   program or system is also unusable but because it is not running

   rather than because it is waiting for something. However, the recovery

   from both situations is often the same. It is also distinguished from

   the similar but more drastic state [6986]wedged - hung software can be

   woken up with easy things like interrupt keys, but wedged will need a

   kill -9 or even reboot.



   Node:hungry puppy, Next:[6987]hungus, Previous:[6988]hung, Up:[6989]=

   H =


   hungry puppy n.


   Syn. [6990]slopsucker.



   Node:hungus, Next:[6991]hyperspace, Previous:[6992]hungry puppy,

   Up:[6993]= H =


   hungus /huhng'g*s/ adj.


   [perhaps related to slang `humongous'] Large, unwieldy, usually

   unmanageable. "TCP is a hungus piece of code." "This is a hungus set

   of modifications." The [6994]Infocom text adventure game "Beyond Zork"

   included two monsters called hunguses.



   Node:hyperspace, Next:[6995]hysterical reasons, Previous:[6996]hungus,

   Up:[6997]= H =


   hyperspace /hi:'per-spays/ n.


   A memory location that is far away from where the program counter

   should be pointing, especially a place that is inaccessible because it

   is not even mapped in by the virtual-memory system. "Another core dump

   -- looks like the program jumped off to hyperspace somehow." (Compare

   [6998]jump off into never-never land.) This usage is from the SF

   notion of a spaceship jumping `into hyperspace', that is, taking a

   shortcut through higher-dimensional space -- in other words, bypassing

   this universe. The variant `east hyperspace' is recorded among CMU and

   Bliss hackers.



   Node:hysterical reasons, Next:[6999]I didn't change anything!,

   Previous:[7000]hyperspace, Up:[7001]= H =


   hysterical reasons n.


   (also `hysterical raisins') A variant on the stock phrase "for

   historical reasons", indicating specifically that something must be

   done in some stupid way for backwards compatibility, and moreover that

   the feature it must be compatible with was the result of a bad design

   in the first place. "All IBM PC video adapters have to support MDA

   text mode for hysterical reasons." Compare [7002]bug-for-bug




   Node:= I =, Next:[7003]= J =, Previous:[7004]= H =, Up:[7005]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= I =

     * [7006]I didn't change anything!:

     * [7007]I see no X here.:

     * [7008]IANAL:

     * [7009]IBM:

     * [7010]IBM discount:

     * [7011]ICBM address:

     * [7012]ice:

     * [7013]ID10T error:

     * [7014]idempotent:

     * [7015]IDP:

     * [7016]If you want X you know where to find it.:

     * [7017]ifdef out:

     * [7018]IIRC:

     * [7019]ill-behaved:

     * [7020]IMHO:

     * [7021]Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted!:

     * [7022]in the extreme:

     * [7023]inc:

     * [7024]incantation:

     * [7025]include:

     * [7026]include war:

     * [7027]indent style:

     * [7028]index of X:

     * [7029]infant mortality:

     * [7030]infinite:

     * [7031]infinite loop:

     * [7032]Infinite-Monkey Theorem:

     * [7033]infinity:

     * [7034]inflate:

     * [7035]Infocom:

     * [7036]initgame:

     * [7037]insanely great:

     * [7038]installfest:

     * [7039]INTERCAL:

     * [7040]interesting:

     * [7041]Internet:

     * [7042]Internet address:

     * [7043]Internet Death Penalty:

     * [7044]Internet Exploder:

     * [7045]Internet Exploiter:

     * [7046]interrupt:

     * [7047]interrupt list:

     * [7048]interrupts locked out:

     * [7049]intro:

     * [7050]IRC:

     * [7051]iron:

     * [7052]Iron Age:

     * [7053]iron box:

     * [7054]ironmonger:

     * [7055]ISO standard cup of tea:

     * [7056]ISP:

     * [7057]ITS:

     * [7058]IWBNI:

     * [7059]IYFEG:



   Node:I didn't change anything!, Next:[7060]I see no X here.,

   Previous:[7061]hysterical reasons, Up:[7062]= I =


   I didn't change anything! interj.


   An aggrieved cry often heard as bugs manifest during a regression

   test. The [7063]canonical reply to this assertion is "Then it works

   just the same as it did before, doesn't it?" See also [7064]one-line

   fix. This is also heard from applications programmers trying to blame

   an obvious applications problem on an unrelated systems software

   change, for example a divide-by-0 fault after terminals were added to

   a network. Usually, their statement is found to be false. Upon close

   questioning, they will admit some major restructuring of the program

   that shouldn't have broken anything, in their opinion, but which

   actually [7065]hosed the code completely.



   Node:I see no X here., Next:[7066]IANAL, Previous:[7067]I didn't

   change anything!, Up:[7068]= I =


   I see no X here.


   Hackers (and the interactive computer games they write) traditionally

   favor this slightly marked usage over other possible equivalents such

   as "There's no X here!" or "X is missing." or "Where's the X?". This

   goes back to the original PDP-10 [7069]ADVENT, which would respond in

   this wise if you asked it to do something involving an object not

   present at your location in the game.



   Node:IANAL, Next:[7070]IBM, Previous:[7071]I see no X here.,

   Up:[7072]= I =


   IANAL //


   [Usenet] Abbreviation, "I Am Not A Lawyer". Usually precedes legal




   Node:IBM, Next:[7073]IBM discount, Previous:[7074]IANAL, Up:[7075]= I



   IBM /I-B-M/


   Inferior But Marketable; It's Better Manually; Insidious Black Magic;

   It's Been Malfunctioning; Incontinent Bowel Movement; and a

   near-[7076]infinite number of even less complimentary expansions,

   including `International Business Machines'. See [7077]TLA. These

   abbreviations illustrate the considerable antipathy most hackers long

   felt toward the `industry leader' (see [7078]fear and loathing).


   What galled hackers about most IBM machines above the PC level wasn't

   so much that they were underpowered and overpriced (though that does

   count against them), but that the designs are incredibly archaic,

   [7079]crufty, and [7080]elephantine ... and you can't fix them --

   source code is locked up tight, and programming tools are expensive,

   hard to find, and bletcherous to use once you've found them. For many

   years, before Microsoft, IBM was the company hackers loved to hate.


   But everything changes. In the 1980s IBM had its own troubles with

   Microsoft. In the late 1990s IBM re-invented itself as a services

   company, began to release open-source software through its AlphaWorks

   group, and began shipping [7081]Linux systems and building ties to the

   Linux community. To the astonishment of all parties, IBM emerged as a

   friend of the hacker community


   This lexicon includes a number of entries attributed to `IBM'; these

   derive from some rampantly unofficial jargon lists circulated within

   IBM's own beleaguered hacker underground.



   Node:IBM discount, Next:[7082]ICBM address, Previous:[7083]IBM,

   Up:[7084]= I =


   IBM discount n.


   A price increase. Outside IBM, this derives from the common perception

   that IBM products are generally overpriced (see [7085]clone); inside,

   it is said to spring from a belief that large numbers of IBM employees

   living in an area cause prices to rise.



   Node:ICBM address, Next:[7086]ice, Previous:[7087]IBM discount,

   Up:[7088]= I =


   ICBM address n.


   (Also `missile address') The form used to register a site with the

   Usenet mapping project, back before the day of pervasive Internet,

   included a blank for longitude and latitude, preferably to

   seconds-of-arc accuracy. This was actually used for generating

   geographically-correct maps of Usenet links on a plotter; however, it

   became traditional to refer to this as one's `ICBM address' or

   `missile address', and some people include it in their [7089]sig block

   with that name. (A real missile address would include target




   Node:ice, Next:[7090]ID10T error, Previous:[7091]ICBM address,

   Up:[7092]= I =


   ice n.


   [coined by Usenetter Tom Maddox, popularized by William Gibson's

   cyberpunk SF novels: a contrived acronym for `Intrusion Countermeasure

   Electronics'] Security software (in Gibson's novels, software that

   responds to intrusion by attempting to immobilize or even literally

   kill the intruder). Hence, `icebreaker': a program designed for

   cracking security on a system.


   Neither term is in serious use yet as of early 1999, but many hackers

   find the metaphor attractive, and each may develop a denotation in the

   future. In the meantime, the speculative usage could be confused with

   `ICE', an acronym for "in-circuit emulator".


   In ironic reference to the speculative usage, however, some hackers

   and computer scientists formed ICE (International Cryptographic

   Experiment) in 1994. ICE is a consortium to promote uniform

   international access to strong cryptography.



   Node:ID10T error, Next:[7093]idempotent, Previous:[7094]ice,

   Up:[7095]= I =


   ID10T error /I-D-ten-T er'*r/


   Synonym for [7096]PEBKAC, e.g. "The user is being an idiot".

   Tech-support people passing a problem report to someone higher up the

   food chain (and presumably better equipped to deal with idiots) may

   ask the user to convey that there seems to be an I-D-ten-T error.

   Users never twig.



   Node:idempotent, Next:[7097]IDP, Previous:[7098]ID10T error,

   Up:[7099]= I =


   idempotent adj.


   [from mathematical techspeak] Acting as if used only once, even if

   used multiple times. This term is often used with respect to [7100]C

   header files, which contain common definitions and declarations to be

   included by several source files. If a header file is ever included

   twice during the same compilation (perhaps due to nested #include

   files), compilation errors can result unless the header file has

   protected itself against multiple inclusion; a header file so

   protected is said to be idempotent. The term can also be used to

   describe an initialization subroutine that is arranged to perform some

   critical action exactly once, even if the routine is called several




   Node:IDP, Next:[7101]If you want X you know where to find it.,

   Previous:[7102]idempotent, Up:[7103]= I =


   IDP /I-D-P/ v.,n.


   [Usenet] Abbreviation for [7104]Internet Death Penalty. Common

   (probably now more so than the full form), and frequently verbed.

   Compare [7105]UDP.



   Node:If you want X you know where to find it., Next:[7106]ifdef out,

   Previous:[7107]IDP, Up:[7108]= I =


   If you want X, you know where to find it.


   There is a legend that Dennis Ritchie, inventor of [7109]C, once

   responded to demands for features resembling those of what at the time

   was a much more popular language by observing "If you want PL/I, you

   know where to find it." Ever since, this has been hackish standard

   form for fending off requests to alter a new design to mimic some

   older (and, by implication, inferior and [7110]baroque) one. The case

   X = [7111]Pascal manifests semi-regularly on Usenet's comp.lang.c

   newsgroup. Indeed, the case X = X has been reported in discussions of

   graphics software (see [7112]X).



   Node:ifdef out, Next:[7113]IIRC, Previous:[7114]If you want X you know

   where to find it., Up:[7115]= I =


   ifdef out /if'def owt/ v.


   Syn. for [7116]condition out, specific to [7117]C.



   Node:IIRC, Next:[7118]ill-behaved, Previous:[7119]ifdef out,

   Up:[7120]= I =


   IIRC //


   Common abbreviation for "If I Recall Correctly".



   Node:ill-behaved, Next:[7121]IMHO, Previous:[7122]IIRC, Up:[7123]= I =


   ill-behaved adj.


   1. [numerical analysis] Said of an algorithm or computational method

   that tends to blow up because of accumulated roundoff error or poor

   convergence properties. 2. Software that bypasses the defined [7124]OS

   interfaces to do things (like screen, keyboard, and disk I/O) itself,

   often in a way that depends on the hardware of the machine it is

   running on or which is nonportable or incompatible with other pieces

   of software. In the IBM PC/MS-DOS world, there is a folk theorem

   (nearly true) to the effect that (owing to gross inadequacies and

   performance penalties in the OS interface) all interesting

   applications are ill-behaved. See also [7125]bare metal. Oppose

   [7126]well-behaved, compare [7127]PC-ism. See [7128]mess-dos.



   Node:IMHO, Next:[7129]Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted!,

   Previous:[7130]ill-behaved, Up:[7131]= I =


   IMHO // abbrev.


   [from SF fandom via Usenet; abbreviation for `In My Humble Opinion']

   "IMHO, mixed-case C names should be avoided, as mistyping something in

   the wrong case can cause hard-to-detect errors -- and they look too

   Pascalish anyhow." Also seen in variant forms such as IMNSHO (In My

   Not-So-Humble Opinion) and IMAO (In My Arrogant Opinion).



   Node:Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted!, Next:[7132]in the extreme,

   Previous:[7133]IMHO, Up:[7134]= I =


   Imminent Death Of The Net Predicted! prov.


   [Usenet] Since [7135]Usenet first got off the ground in 1980-81, it

   has grown exponentially, approximately doubling in size every year. On

   the other hand, most people feel the [7136]signal-to-noise ratio of

   Usenet has dropped steadily. These trends led, as far back as

   mid-1983, to predictions of the imminent collapse (or death) of the

   net. Ten years and numerous doublings later, enough of these gloomy

   prognostications have been confounded that the phrase "Imminent Death

   Of The Net Predicted!" has become a running joke, hauled out any time

   someone grumbles about the [7137]S/N ratio or the huge and steadily

   increasing volume, or the possible loss of a key node or link, or the

   potential for lawsuits when ignoramuses post copyrighted material,

   etc., etc., etc.



   Node:in the extreme, Next:[7138]inc, Previous:[7139]Imminent Death Of

   The Net Predicted!, Up:[7140]= I =


   in the extreme adj.


   A preferred superlative suffix for many hackish terms. See, for

   example, `obscure in the extreme' under [7141]obscure, and compare




   Node:inc, Next:[7143]incantation, Previous:[7144]in the extreme,

   Up:[7145]= I =


   inc /ink/ v.


   Verbal (and only rarely written) shorthand for increment, i.e.

   `increase by one'. Especially used by assembly programmers, as many

   assembly languages have an inc mnemonic. Antonym: dec (see [7146]DEC).



   Node:incantation, Next:[7147]include, Previous:[7148]inc, Up:[7149]= I



   incantation n.


   Any particularly arbitrary or obscure command that one must mutter at

   a system to attain a desired result. Not used of passwords or other

   explicit security features. Especially used of tricks that are so

   poorly documented that they must be learned from a [7150]wizard. "This

   compiler normally locates initialized data in the data segment, but if

   you [7151]mutter the right incantation they will be forced into text




   Node:include, Next:[7152]include war, Previous:[7153]incantation,

   Up:[7154]= I =


   include vt.


   [Usenet] 1. To duplicate a portion (or whole) of another's message

   (typically with attribution to the source) in a reply or followup, for

   clarifying the context of one's response. See the discussion of

   inclusion styles under "Hacker Writing Style". 2. [from [7155]C]

   #include <disclaimer.h> has appeared in [7156]sig blocks to refer to a

   notional `standard [7157]disclaimer file'.



   Node:include war, Next:[7158]indent style, Previous:[7159]include,

   Up:[7160]= I =


   include war n.


   Excessive multi-leveled inclusion within a discussion [7161]thread, a

   practice that tends to annoy readers. In a forum with high-traffic

   newsgroups, such as Usenet, this can lead to [7162]flames and the urge

   to start a [7163]kill file.



   Node:indent style, Next:[7164]index of X, Previous:[7165]include war,

   Up:[7166]= I =


   indent style n.


   [C, C++, and Java programmers] The rules one uses to indent code in a

   readable fashion. There are four major C indent styles, described

   below; all have the aim of making it easier for the reader to visually

   track the scope of control constructs. They have been inherited by C++

   and Java, which have C-like syntaxes. The significant variable is the

   placement of { and } with respect to the statement(s) they enclose and

   to the guard or controlling statement (if, else, for, while, or do) on

   the block, if any.


   `K&R style' -- Named after Kernighan & Ritchie, because the examples

   in [7167]K&R are formatted this way. Also called `kernel style'

   because the Unix kernel is written in it, and the `One True Brace

   Style' (abbrev. 1TBS) by its partisans. In C code, the body is

   typically indented by eight spaces (or one tab) per level, as shown

   here. Four spaces are occasionally seen in C, but in C++ and Java four

   tends to be the rule rather than the exception.

if (<cond>) {



   `Allman style' -- Named for Eric Allman, a Berkeley hacker who wrote a

   lot of the BSD utilities in it (it is sometimes called `BSD style').

   Resembles normal indent style in Pascal and Algol. It is the only

   style other than K&R in widespread use among Java programmers. Basic

   indent per level shown here is eight spaces, but four (or sometimes

   three) spaces are generally preferred by C++ and Java programmers.

if (<cond>)




   `Whitesmiths style' -- popularized by the examples that came with

   Whitesmiths C, an early commercial C compiler. Basic indent per level

   shown here is eight spaces, but four spaces are occasionally seen.

if (<cond>)




   `GNU style' -- Used throughout GNU EMACS and the Free Software

   Foundation code, and just about nowhere else. Indents are always four

   spaces per level, with { and } halfway between the outer and inner

   indent levels.

if (<cond>)




   Surveys have shown the Allman and Whitesmiths styles to be the most

   common, with about equal mind shares. K&R/1TBS used to be nearly

   universal, but is now much less common in C (the opening brace tends

   to get lost against the right paren of the guard part in an if or

   while, which is a [7168]Bad Thing). Defenders of 1TBS argue that any

   putative gain in readability is less important than their style's

   relative economy with vertical space, which enables one to see more

   code on one's screen at once.


   The Java Language Specification legislates not only the capitalization

   of identifiers, but where nouns, adjectives, and verbs should be in

   method, class, interface, and variable names (section 6.8). While the

   specification stops short of also standardizing on a bracing style,

   all source code originating from Sun Laboratories uses the K&R style.

   This has set a precedent for Java programmers, which most follow.


   Doubtless these issues will continue to be the subject of [7169]holy




   Node:index of X, Next:[7170]infant mortality, Previous:[7171]indent

   style, Up:[7172]= I =


   index of X n.


   See [7173]coefficient of X.



   Node:infant mortality, Next:[7174]infinite, Previous:[7175]index of X,

   Up:[7176]= I =


   infant mortality n.


   It is common lore among hackers (and in the electronics industry at

   large; this term is possibly techspeak by now) that the chances of

   sudden hardware failure drop off exponentially with a machine's time

   since first use (that is, until the relatively distant time at which

   enough mechanical wear in I/O devices and thermal-cycling stress in

   components has accumulated for the machine to start going senile). Up

   to half of all chip and wire failures happen within a new system's

   first few weeks; such failures are often referred to as `infant

   mortality' problems (or, occasionally, as `sudden infant death

   syndrome'). See [7177]bathtub curve, [7178]burn-in period.



   Node:infinite, Next:[7179]infinite loop, Previous:[7180]infant

   mortality, Up:[7181]= I =


   infinite adj.


   [common] Consisting of a large number of objects; extreme. Used very

   loosely as in: "This program produces infinite garbage." "He is an

   infinite loser." The word most likely to follow `infinite', though, is

   [7182]hair. (It has been pointed out that fractals are an excellent

   example of infinite hair.) These uses are abuses of the word's

   mathematical meaning. The term `semi-infinite', denoting an

   immoderately large amount of some resource, is also heard. "This

   compiler is taking a semi-infinite amount of time to optimize my

   program." See also [7183]semi.



   Node:infinite loop, Next:[7184]Infinite-Monkey Theorem,

   Previous:[7185]infinite, Up:[7186]= I =


   infinite loop n.


   One that never terminates (that is, the machine [7187]spins or

   [7188]buzzes forever and goes [7189]catatonic). There is a standard

   joke that has been made about each generation's exemplar of the

   ultra-fast machine: "The Cray-3 is so fast it can execute an infinite

   loop in under 2 seconds!"



   Node:Infinite-Monkey Theorem, Next:[7190]infinity,

   Previous:[7191]infinite loop, Up:[7192]= I =


   Infinite-Monkey Theorem n.


   "If you put an [7193]infinite number of monkeys at typewriters,

   eventually one will bash out the script for Hamlet." (One may also

   hypothesize a small number of monkeys and a very long period of time.)

   This theorem asserts nothing about the intelligence of the one

   [7194]random monkey that eventually comes up with the script (and note

   that the mob will also type out all the possible incorrect versions of

   Hamlet). It may be referred to semi-seriously when justifying a

   [7195]brute force method; the implication is that, with enough

   resources thrown at it, any technical challenge becomes a

   [7196]one-banana problem. This argument gets more respect since

   [7197]Linux justified the [7198]bazaar mode of development.


   This theorem was first popularized by the astronomer Sir Arthur

   Eddington. It became part of the idiom of techies via the classic SF

   short story "Inflexible Logic" by Russell Maloney, and many younger

   hackers know it through a reference in Douglas Adams's "Hitchhiker's

   Guide to the Galaxy". On 1 April 2000 the usage acquired its own

   Internet standard, [7199]

   (Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite).



   Node:infinity, Next:[7200]inflate, Previous:[7201]Infinite-Monkey

   Theorem, Up:[7202]= I =


   infinity n.


   1. The largest value that can be represented in a particular type of

   variable (register, memory location, data type, whatever). 2. `minus

   infinity': The smallest such value, not necessarily or even usually

   the simple negation of plus infinity. In N-bit twos-complement

   arithmetic, infinity is 2^(N-1) - 1 but minus infinity is - (2^(N-1)),

   not -(2^(N-1) - 1). Note also that this is different from time T

   equals minus infinity, which is closer to a mathematician's usage of




   Node:inflate, Next:[7203]Infocom, Previous:[7204]infinity, Up:[7205]=

   I =


   inflate vt.


   To decompress or [7206]puff a file. Rare among Internet hackers, used

   primarily by MS-DOS/Windows types.



   Node:Infocom, Next:[7207]initgame, Previous:[7208]inflate, Up:[7209]=

   I =


   Infocom n.


   A now-legendary games company, active from 1979 to 1989, that

   commercialized the MDL parser technology used for [7210]Zork to

   produce a line of text adventure games that remain favorites among

   hackers. Infocom's games were intelligent, funny, witty, erudite,

   irreverent, challenging, satirical, and most thoroughly hackish in

   spirit. The physical game packages from Infocom are now prized

   collector's items. After being acquired by Activision in 1989 they did

   a few more "modern" (e.g. graphics-intensive) games which were less

   successful than reissues of their classics.


   The software, thankfully, is still extant; Infocom games were written

   in a kind of P-code and distributed with a P-code interpreter core,

   and not only freeware emulators for that interpreter but an actual

   compiler as well have been written to permit the P-code to be run on

   platforms the games never originally graced. In fact, new games

   written in this P-code are still bering written. (Emulators that can

   run Infocom game ZIPs, and new games, are available at




   Node:initgame, Next:[7212]insanely great, Previous:[7213]Infocom,

   Up:[7214]= I =


   initgame /in-it'gaym/ n.


   [IRC] An [7215]IRC version of the trivia game "Botticelli", in which

   one user changes his [7216]nick to the initials of a famous person or

   other named entity, and the others on the channel ask yes or no

   questions, with the one to guess the person getting to be "it" next.

   As a courtesy, the one picking the initials starts by providing a

   4-letter hint of the form sex, nationality, life-status,

   reality-status. For example, MAAR means "Male, American, Alive, Real"

   (as opposed to "fictional"). Initgame can be surprisingly addictive.

   See also [7217]hing.


   [1996 update: a recognizable version of the initgame has become a

   staple of some radio talk shows in the U.S. We had it first! - ESR]



   Node:insanely great, Next:[7218]installfest, Previous:[7219]initgame,

   Up:[7220]= I =


   insanely great adj.


   [Mac community, from Steve Jobs; also BSD Unix people via Bill Joy]

   Something so incredibly [7221]elegant that it is imaginable only to

   someone possessing the most puissant of [7222]hacker-natures.



   Node:installfest, Next:[7223]INTERCAL, Previous:[7224]insanely great,

   Up:[7225]= I =




   [Linux community since c.1998] Common portmanteau word for

   "installation festival"; Linux user groups frequently run these.

   Computer users are invited to bring their machines to have Linux

   installed on their machines. The idea is to get them painlessly over

   the biggest hump in migrating to Linux, which is initially installing

   and configuring it for the user's machine.



   Node:INTERCAL, Next:[7226]interesting, Previous:[7227]installfest,

   Up:[7228]= I =


   INTERCAL /in't*r-kal/ n.


   [said by the authors to stand for `Compiler Language With No

   Pronounceable Acronym'] A computer language designed by Don Woods and

   James Lyons in 1972. INTERCAL is purposely different from all other

   computer languages in all ways but one; it is purely a written

   language, being totally unspeakable. An excerpt from the INTERCAL

   Reference Manual will make the style of the language clear:


     It is a well-known and oft-demonstrated fact that a person whose

     work is incomprehensible is held in high esteem. For example, if

     one were to state that the simplest way to store a value of 65536

     in a 32-bit INTERCAL variable is:

DO :1 <- #0$#256

     any sensible programmer would say that that was absurd. Since this

     is indeed the simplest method, the programmer would be made to look

     foolish in front of his boss, who would of course have happened to

     turn up, as bosses are wont to do. The effect would be no less

     devastating for the programmer having been correct.


   INTERCAL has many other peculiar features designed to make it even

   more unspeakable. The Woods-Lyons implementation was actually used by

   many (well, at least several) people at Princeton. The language has

   been recently reimplemented as C-INTERCAL and is consequently enjoying

   an unprecedented level of unpopularity; there is even an

   alt.lang.intercal newsgroup devoted to the study and ... appreciation

   of the language on Usenet.


   Inevitably, INTERCAL has a home page on the Web:

   [7229] An extended version,

   implemented in (what else?) [7230]Perl and adding object-oriented

   features, is available at [7231] See

   also [7232]Befunge.



   Node:interesting, Next:[7233]Internet, Previous:[7234]INTERCAL,

   Up:[7235]= I =


   interesting adj.


   In hacker parlance, this word has strong connotations of `annoying',

   or `difficult', or both. Hackers relish a challenge, and enjoy

   wringing all the irony possible out of the ancient Chinese curse "May

   you live in interesting times". Oppose [7236]trivial,




   Node:Internet, Next:[7238]Internet address,

   Previous:[7239]interesting, Up:[7240]= I =


   Internet n.


   The mother of all networks. First incarnated beginning in 1969 as the

   ARPANET, a U.S. Department of Defense research testbed. Though it has

   been widely believed that the goal was to develop a network

   architecture for military command-and-control that could survive

   disruptions up to and including nuclear war, this is a myth; in fact,

   ARPANET was conceived from the start as a way to get most economical

   use out of then-scarce large-computer resources.


   As originally imagined, ARPANET's major use would have been to support

   what is now called remote login and more sophisticated forms of

   distributed computing, but the infant technology of electronic mail

   quickly grew to dominate actual usage. Universities, research labs and

   defense contractors early discovered the Internet's potential as a

   medium of communication between humans and linked up in steadily

   increasing numbers, connecting together a quirky mix of academics,

   techies, hippies, SF fans, hackers, and anarchists. The roots of this

   lexicon lie in those early years.


   Over the next quarter-century the Internet evolved in many ways. The

   typical machine/OS combination moved from [7241]DEC [7242]PDP-10s and

   [7243]PDP-20s, running [7244]TOPS-10 and [7245]TOPS-20, to PDP-11s and

   VAXes and Suns running [7246]Unix, and in the 1990s to Unix on Intel

   microcomputers. The Internet's protocols grew more capable, most

   notably in the move from NCP/IP to [7247]TCP/IP in 1982 and the

   implementation of Domain Name Service in 1983. It was around this time

   that people began referring to the collection of interconnected

   networks with ARPANET at its core as "the Internet".


   The ARPANET had a fairly strict set of participation guidelines -

   connected institutions had to be involved with a DOD-related research

   project. By the mid-80s, many of the organizations clamoring to join

   didn't fit this profile. In 1986, the National Science Foundation

   built NSFnet to open up access to its five regional supercomputing

   centers; NSFnet became the backbone of the Internet, replacing the

   original ARPANET pipes (which were formally shut down in 1990).

   Between 1990 and late 1994 the pieces of NSFnet were sold to major

   telecommunications companies until the Internet backbone had gone

   completely commercial.


   That year, 1994, was also the year the mainstream culture discovered

   the Internet. Once again, the [7248]killer app was not the anticipated

   one - rather, what caught the public imagination was the hypertext and

   multimedia features of the World Wide Web. Subsequently the Internet

   has seen off its only serious challenger (the OSI protocol stack

   favored by European telecom monopolies) and is in the process of

   absorbing into itself many of the proprietary networks built during

   the second wave of wide-area networking after 1980. It is now (1996) a

   commonplace even in mainstream media to predict that a

   globally-extended Internet will become the key unifying communications

   technology of the next century. See also [7249]the network and

   [7250]Internet address.



   Node:Internet address, Next:[7251]Internet Death Penalty,

   Previous:[7252]Internet, Up:[7253]= I =


   Internet address n.


   1. [techspeak] An absolute network address of the form foo@bar.baz,

   where foo is a user name, bar is a [7254]sitename, and baz is a

   `domain' name, possibly including periods itself. Contrast with

   [7255]bang path; see also [7256]the network and [7257]network address.

   All Internet machines and most UUCP sites can now resolve these

   addresses, thanks to a large amount of behind-the-scenes magic and

   [7258]PD software written since 1980 or so. See also [7259]bang path,

   [7260]domainist. 2. More loosely, any network address reachable

   through Internet; this includes [7261]bang path addresses and some

   internal corporate and government networks.


   Reading Internet addresses is something of an art. Here are the four

   most important top-level functional Internet domains followed by a

   selection of geographical domains:



          commercial organizations



          educational institutions



          U.S. government civilian sites



          U.S. military sites


   Note that most of the sites in the com and edu domains are in the U.S.

   or Canada.



          sites in the U.S. outside the functional domains



          sites in the ex-Soviet Union (see [7262]kremvax).



          sites in the United Kingdom


   Within the us domain, there are subdomains for the fifty states, each

   generally with a name identical to the state's postal abbreviation.

   Within the uk domain, there is an ac subdomain for academic sites and

   a co domain for commercial ones. Other top-level domains may be

   divided up in similar ways.



   Node:Internet Death Penalty, Next:[7263]Internet Exploder,

   Previous:[7264]Internet address, Up:[7265]= I =


   Internet Death Penalty


   [Usenet] (often abbreviated IDP) The ultimate sanction against

   [7266]spam-emitting sites - complete shunning at the router level of

   all mail and packets, as well as Usenet messages, from the offending

   domain(s). Compare [7267]Usenet Death Penalty, with which it is

   sometimes confused.



   Node:Internet Exploder, Next:[7268]Internet Exploiter,

   Previous:[7269]Internet Death Penalty, Up:[7270]= I =


   Internet Exploder


   [very common] Pejorative hackerism for Microsoft's "Internet Explorer"

   web browser (also "Internet Exploiter"). Compare [7271]HP-SUX,

   [7272]AIDX, [7273]buglix, [7274]Macintrash, [7275]Telerat,

   [7276]ScumOS, [7277]sun-stools, [7278]Slowlaris.



   Node:Internet Exploiter, Next:[7279]interrupt, Previous:[7280]Internet

   Exploder, Up:[7281]= I =


   Internet Exploiter n.


   Another common name-of-insult for Internet Explorer, Microsoft's

   overweight Web Browser; more hostile than [7282]Internet Exploder.

   Reflects widespread hostility to Microsoft and a sense that it is

   seeking to hijack, monopolize, and corrupt the Internet. Compare

   [7283]Exploder and the less pejorative [7284]Netscrape.



   Node:interrupt, Next:[7285]interrupt list, Previous:[7286]Internet

   Exploiter, Up:[7287]= I =




   1. [techspeak] n. On a computer, an event that interrupts normal

   processing and temporarily diverts flow-of-control through an

   "interrupt handler" routine. See also [7288]trap. 2. interj. A request

   for attention from a hacker. Often explicitly spoken. "Interrupt --

   have you seen Joe recently?" See [7289]priority interrupt. 3. Under

   MS-DOS, nearly synonymous with `system call', because the OS and BIOS

   routines are both called using the INT instruction (see

   [7290]interrupt list) and because programmers so often have to bypass

   the OS (going directly to a BIOS interrupt) to get reasonable




   Node:interrupt list, Next:[7291]interrupts locked out,

   Previous:[7292]interrupt, Up:[7293]= I =


   interrupt list n.


   [MS-DOS] The list of all known software interrupt calls (both

   documented and undocumented) for IBM PCs and compatibles, maintained

   and made available for free redistribution by Ralf Brown

   [7294]<>. As of late 1992, it had grown to

   approximately two megabytes in length.



   Node:interrupts locked out, Next:[7295]intro, Previous:[7296]interrupt

   list, Up:[7297]= I =


   interrupts locked out adj.


   When someone is ignoring you. In a restaurant, after several fruitless

   attempts to get the waitress's attention, a hacker might well observe

   "She must have interrupts locked out". The synonym `interrupts

   disabled' is also common. Variations abound; "to have one's interrupt

   mask bit set" and "interrupts masked out" are also heard. See also




   Node:intro, Next:[7299]IRC, Previous:[7300]interrupts locked out,

   Up:[7301]= I =


   intro n.


   [[7302]demoscene] Introductory [7303]screen of some production. 2. A

   short [7304]demo, usually showing just one or two [7305]screens. 3.

   Small, usually 64k, 40k or 4k [7306]demo. Sizes are generally dictated

   by [7307]compo rules. See also [7308]dentro, [7309]demo.



   Node:IRC, Next:[7310]iron, Previous:[7311]intro, Up:[7312]= I =


   IRC /I-R-C/ n.


   [Internet Relay Chat] A worldwide "party line" network that allows one

   to converse with others in real time. IRC is structured as a network

   of Internet servers, each of which accepts connections from client

   programs, one per user. The IRC community and the [7313]Usenet and

   [7314]MUD communities overlap to some extent, including both hackers

   and regular folks who have discovered the wonders of computer

   networks. Some Usenet jargon has been adopted on IRC, as have some

   conventions such as [7315]emoticons. There is also a vigorous native

   jargon, represented in this lexicon by entries marked `[IRC]'. See

   also [7316]talk mode.



   Node:iron, Next:[7317]Iron Age, Previous:[7318]IRC, Up:[7319]= I =


   iron n.


   Hardware, especially older and larger hardware of [7320]mainframe

   class with big metal cabinets housing relatively low-density

   electronics (but the term is also used of modern supercomputers).

   Often in the phrase [7321]big iron. Oppose [7322]silicon. See also




   Node:Iron Age, Next:[7324]iron box, Previous:[7325]iron, Up:[7326]= I



   Iron Age n.


   In the history of computing, 1961-1971 -- the formative era of

   commercial [7327]mainframe technology, when ferrite-core

   [7328]dinosaurs ruled the earth. The Iron Age began, ironically

   enough, with the delivery of the first minicomputer (the PDP-1) and

   ended with the introduction of the first commercial microprocessor

   (the Intel 4004) in 1971. See also [7329]Stone Age; compare

   [7330]elder days.



   Node:iron box, Next:[7331]ironmonger, Previous:[7332]Iron Age,

   Up:[7333]= I =


   iron box n.


   [Unix/Internet] A special environment set up to trap a [7334]cracker

   logging in over remote connections long enough to be traced. May

   include a modified [7335]shell restricting the cracker's movements in

   unobvious ways, and `bait' files designed to keep him interested and

   logged on. See also [7336]back door, [7337]firewall machine,

   [7338]Venus flytrap, and Clifford Stoll's account in "[7339]The

   Cuckoo's Egg" of how he made and used one (see the [7340]Bibliography

   in Appendix C). Compare [7341]padded cell, [7342]honey pot.



   Node:ironmonger, Next:[7343]ISO standard cup of tea,

   Previous:[7344]iron box, Up:[7345]= I =


   ironmonger n.


   [IBM] A hardware specialist (derogatory). Compare [7346]sandbender,

   [7347]polygon pusher.



   Node:ISO standard cup of tea, Next:[7348]ISP,

   Previous:[7349]ironmonger, Up:[7350]= I =


   ISO standard cup of tea n.


   [South Africa] A cup of tea with milk and one teaspoon of sugar, where

   the milk is poured into the cup before the tea. Variations are ISO 0,

   with no sugar; ISO 2, with two spoons of sugar; and so on. This may

   derive from the "NATO standard" cup of coffee and tea (milk and two

   sugars), military slang going back to the late 1950s and parodying

   NATO's relentless bureacratic drive to standardize parts across

   European and U.S. militaries.


   Like many ISO standards, this one has a faintly alien ring in North

   America, where hackers generally shun the decadent British practice of

   adulterating perfectly good tea with dairy products and prefer instead

   to add a wedge of lemon, if anything. If one were feeling extremely

   silly, one might hypothesize an analogous `ANSI standard cup of tea'

   and wind up with a political situation distressingly similar to

   several that arise in much more serious technical contexts. (Milk and

   lemon don't mix very well.)


   [2000 update: There is now, in fact, a `British Standard BS6008: How

   to make a standard cup of tea.' - ESR]



   Node:ISP, Next:[7351]ITS, Previous:[7352]ISO standard cup of tea,

   Up:[7353]= I =


   ISP /I-S-P/


   Common abbreviation for Internet Service Provider, a kind of company

   that barely existed before 1993. ISPs sell Internet access to the mass

   market. While the big nationwide commercial BBSs with Internet access

   (like America Online, CompuServe, GEnie, Netcom, etc.) are technically

   ISPs, the term is usually reserved for local or regional small

   providers (often run by hackers turned entrepreneurs) who resell

   Internet access cheaply without themselves being information providers

   or selling advertising. Compare [7354]NSP.



   Node:ITS, Next:[7355]IWBNI, Previous:[7356]ISP, Up:[7357]= I =


   ITS /I-T-S/ n.


   1. Incompatible Time-sharing System, an influential though highly

   idiosyncratic operating system written for PDP-6s and PDP-10s at MIT

   and long used at the MIT AI Lab. Much AI-hacker jargon derives from

   ITS folklore, and to have been `an ITS hacker' qualifies one instantly

   as an old-timer of the most venerable sort. ITS pioneered many

   important innovations, including transparent file sharing between

   machines and terminal-independent I/O. After about 1982, most actual

   work was shifted to newer machines, with the remaining ITS boxes run

   essentially as a hobby and service to the hacker community. The

   shutdown of the lab's last ITS machine in May 1990 marked the end of

   an era and sent old-time hackers into mourning nationwide (see

   [7358]high moby). 2. A mythical image of operating-system perfection

   worshiped by a bizarre, fervent retro-cult of old-time hackers and

   ex-users (see [7359]troglodyte, sense 2). ITS worshipers manage

   somehow to continue believing that an OS maintained by

   assembly-language hand-hacking that supported only monocase

   6-character filenames in one directory per account remains superior to

   today's state of commercial art (their venom against [7360]Unix is

   particularly intense). See also [7361]holy wars, [7362]Weenix.



   Node:IWBNI, Next:[7363]IYFEG, Previous:[7364]ITS, Up:[7365]= I =


   IWBNI //


   Abbreviation for `It Would Be Nice If'. Compare [7366]WIBNI.



   Node:IYFEG, Next:[7367]J. Random, Previous:[7368]IWBNI, Up:[7369]= I =


   IYFEG //


   [Usenet] Abbreviation for `Insert Your Favorite Ethnic Group'. Used as

   a meta-name when telling ethnic jokes on the net to avoid offending

   anyone. See [7370]JEDR.



   Node:= J =, Next:[7371]= K =, Previous:[7372]= I =, Up:[7373]The

   Jargon Lexicon


= J =

     * [7374]J. Random:

     * [7375]J. Random Hacker:

     * [7376]jack in:

     * [7377]jaggies:

     * [7378]Java:

     * [7379]JCL:

     * [7380]JEDR:

     * [7381]Jeff K.:

     * [7382]jello:

     * [7383]jiffy:

     * [7384]job security:

     * [7385]jock:

     * [7386]joe code:

     * [7387]jolix:

     * [7388]juggling eggs:

     * [7389]jump off into never-never land:

     * [7390]jupiter:



   Node:J. Random, Next:[7391]J. Random Hacker, Previous:[7392]IYFEG,

   Up:[7393]= J =


   J. Random /J rand'm/ n.


   [common; generalized from [7394]J. Random Hacker] Arbitrary; ordinary;

   any one; any old. `J. Random' is often prefixed to a noun to make a

   name out of it. It means roughly `some particular' or `any specific

   one'. "Would you let J. Random Loser marry your daughter?" The most

   common uses are `J. Random Hacker', `J. Random Loser', and `J. Random

   Nerd' ("Should J. Random Loser be allowed to [7395]gun down other

   people?"), but it can be used simply as an elaborate version of

   [7396]random in any sense.



   Node:J. Random Hacker, Next:[7397]jack in, Previous:[7398]J. Random,

   Up:[7399]= J =


   J. Random Hacker /J rand'm hak'r/ n.


   [very common] A mythical figure like the Unknown Soldier; the

   archetypal hacker nerd. This term is one of the oldest in the jargon,

   apparently going back to MIT in the 1960s. See [7400]random,

   [7401]Suzie COBOL. This may originally have been inspired by `J. Fred

   Muggs', a show-biz chimpanzee whose name was a household word back in

   the early days of [7402]TMRC, and was probably influenced by `J.

   Presper Eckert' (one of the co-inventors of the electronic computer).

   See also [7403]Fred Foobar.



   Node:jack in, Next:[7404]jaggies, Previous:[7405]J. Random Hacker,

   Up:[7406]= J =


   jack in v.


   To log on to a machine or connect to a network or [7407]BBS, esp. for

   purposes of entering a [7408]virtual reality simulation such as a

   [7409]MUD or [7410]IRC (leaving is "jacking out"). This term derives

   from [7411]cyberpunk SF, in which it was used for the act of plugging

   an electrode set into neural sockets in order to interface the brain

   directly to a virtual reality. It is primarily used by MUD and IRC

   fans and younger hackers on BBS systems.



   Node:jaggies, Next:[7412]Java, Previous:[7413]jack in, Up:[7414]= J =


   jaggies /jag'eez/ n.


   The `stairstep' effect observable when an edge (esp. a linear edge of

   very shallow or steep slope) is rendered on a pixel device (as opposed

   to a vector display).



   Node:Java, Next:[7415]JCL, Previous:[7416]jaggies, Up:[7417]= J =




   An object-oriented language originally developed at Sun by James

   Gosling (and known by the name "Oak") with the intention of being the

   successor to [7418]C++ (the project was however originally sold to Sun

   as an embedded language for use in set-top boxes). After the great

   Internet explosion of